Boxing being the unforgiving sport that it is, comes with a hell lot of challenges. While of course it instils passion in you and makes you all fierce and headstrong, injuries are the biggest risk associated to it.
Even if you’re not debuting into the professional boxing arena, you’re still gonna be at risk of injuries. As an amateur boxer, forget brain or head injuries, your bigger concern should be muscle or shoulder damage.
Training with a punching bag means that you will be working your upper body which includes shoulders, arms, chest, and core mainly. Therefore, when you spend a lot of time training with a punching bag, you can expect shoulder damage or intense strain in related areas.
Now this shoulder damage can include both short or long term injuries. We’ll see how and why all of that happens. What type of damage is more common as well as all the possible prevention and treatments related to shoulder damage.
What Are The Common Shoulder Injuries From Punching Bag?
High intensity training with a punching bag puts you at a lot of risk of shoulder damage. Shoulder, arms, or muscle damage, in general, happens quite often among boxers. However, that does not mean it should be overlooked.
Anyway, I’ll be listing all the common injuries due to a punching bag so you can identify your problems, their causes, and rush to treatment.
Well I know we’re meant to discuss shoulder damage mainly, but a wrist injury, however, is one of the most common problems experienced due to punching bag.
Wrist injury commonly occurs due to
- inappropriate form or technique of your punches
- lack of proper equipment
- not using boxing gloves or
- simply due to poor training
Using gloves without adequate wrist support will cost you a lot. You may end up with a dislocated wrist or decreased strength over time. You may even be signing up for a chronic damage.
How to Avoid:
It’s no secret that any type of injury cannot be totally avoided when you’re dealing with a rough sport like boxing. However, some steps can be taken to reduce the prevalence of these injuries.
- Always wear boxing gloves with wrist support
- Use Hand Wraps
- Get in touch with a certified trainer
- Do not start with intense training
- Use adequate equipment
How to Treat:
Despite all the precautions, you may end up with a damaged wrist at some point. To treat mild sprains in your wrist
- Take 3 to 10 days off from training
- Take a painkiller and
- Let your body rest
In case of severe pain that is not healing, visit your doctor.
Rotator Cuff Impingement
This is the most commonly occurring damage to shoulders due to intense and regular heavy bag training.
Rotator cuff is composed of a group of muscles. These muscles help the shoulder joint in moving freely as well as provide support to it.
Rotator cuff impingement leads to inflammation in the muscles, pain around the shoulder, or a compromised and limited motion of the arm.
Rotator Cuff Impingement is usually caused by
- Overexertion of muscles
- Intense long term training
- Swollen or torn tendon
- Repetitive activity of the shoulder
When training with a punching bag, you work up your upper body. Delivering repetitive and high intensity punches over and over again leads to tired muscles around the shoulders.
These muscles then start to rub against the surrounding tissues and bones and consequently, cause rotator cuff impingement.
How to Avoid:
Some of the common ways that can help you avoid a commonly occurring rotator cuff impingement include;
- Avoid intense training right away
- Training the rotator cuff muscles with adequate support
- Building muscle memory with regular but gradually increasing training intensity
How to Treat:
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms related to impingement, then it is best to start the treatment immediately. Avoiding treatment can lead to long term or chronic damage with a risk of surgery related treatment.
So here’s a few things that can help you:
- An over the counter pain killer or anti inflammatory pill is the most common solution.
- You can also try treating it with ice compressions.
- A better approach can be physical therapy to regain control over your muscles.
- Lastly, in a serious case, talk to an orthopaedist to get expert advice and proper diagnosis.
Another shoulder related damage that is commonly diagnosed among boxers is sub acromial bursitis also known as shoulder bursitis. Bursa is a cushion-like sac that supports the shoulder joint and helps reduce friction.
A few common causes of damage to the bursa include
- Overuse of shoulder joints
- Repetitive shoulder trauma
- Inflammation of the Joint
- Lack of rest
Excessive punching bag training creates a lot of friction among the joints and muscles. Moving your shoulder way back and then exerting full force to deliver a punch wears the muscle and causes trauma.
A repetitive activity of this sort results in severe shoulder pain or discomfort, commonly diagnosed as sub acromial bursitis.
How to Avoid:
Shoulder bursitis can be avoided to a great extent if proper precautionary measures are taken. At some point, you may still experience mild symptoms. However, a serious condition can be avoided by
- Proper warm up before punching bag training
- Regular breaks in between punching sessions
- Gradually increasing the intensity of your punches
- Maintaining a good form or posture
How to Treat:
Mild shoulder bursitis can be easily treated at home. In severe and rare cases, the doctor might suggest you a surgery.
Anyway, at home treatments include
- Painkiller. Yes. The holy grail for most of us.
- Rest the shoulder and take a break from training.
- Use ice compressions on the affected area.
- Wear a shoulder brace to avoid unnecessary movement.
- If comfortable, try out some gentle stretches.
If none of the home remedies are working for you, then immediately talk to a doctor. The doctors usually suggest corticosteroids, pain relievers, or in rare cases surgery to treat shoulder bursitis.
Torn Shoulder Labrum
Labrum is a cartilage around the shoulder that helps to connect the joint of the humerus(upper arm bone) to the joint of the shoulder.
It helps the shoulder in stability and improves mobility by promoting easy rotation. A torn shoulder labrum will lead to a feeling of instability, decreased mobility of the shoulder, pain, or loss of strength.
None of this will let you do your heavy bag training so let’s see what are the possible causes of this shoulder damage.
With a punching bag, you’re delivering repetitive punches exerting extreme power. When you exert all the force back with your shoulder and then push forward, you’ll most likely harm the labrum at the back of your shoulder.
These tears usually result due to:
- Injury at posterior shoulder joint
- Excessive overhead arm motions
- Repetitive punching motions
- Age related wear and tear
- Overuse of muscles and joints
Once you identify the causes of a torn shoulder labrum, you can start taking precautions to avoid landing in such a situation.
How to Avoid:
A labral tear can be avoided with a few basic preventive measures. However, the risk cannot be eliminated completely in any case.
To reduce the risk of a torn shoulder labrum:
- Start with proper warm up exercises before punching bag
- Train the muscles around your shoulder for intense activity
- Take guidance from a legit trainer
- Proper stretching after the training session
- Listening to your body by giving it proper breaks
How to Treat:
Since a labral tear is not entirely unavoidable, you should know a few at home remedies for an immediate treatment.
More often than not, a torn shoulder labrum will heal on its own with proper rest and care.
- Take a pain relieving pill
- Quit training and rest for a few days
- Get some physical therapy
However, if a severe tear is diagnosed, you might have to undergo a minor surgery that works by removing the damaged part of the labrum.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, ensure adequate rest and care, as recommended by your doctor. Minor shoulder pains or injuries are quite common with intense heavy bag training. But that does not mean it is safe to go through them over and over again.
Take preventive measures to avoid these injuries as much as you can. In case of severe shoulder damage or pain, do not resort to home remedies and take the advice of your physician.