Author: Sensei Lincoln

The prevention of injuries starts and ends with a solid foundation. If the framework of the athlete is suspect, s/he is more prone to injuries such as those we have all encountered throughout our lives practicing Karate.

The prevention of injuries starts and ends with a solid foundation. If the framework of the athlete is suspect, s/he is more prone to injuries such as those we have all encountered throughout our lives practicing Karate.


This seminar looks specifically at what can be done to prevent injuries.

** For this seminar, "injuries" discussed will be non-contact injuries. This is opposed to contact injuries which we have very little control over.

** Non-Contact Injuries: groin, hamstrings, upper and lower back, neck, dehydration and insufficient fuel for energy metabolism.

Prevention of injuries through stretching.

** Stretching, along with some type of conditioning exercise program is accepted as the primary method of reducing the likelihood of injuries.

** Stretching increases flexibility, decreases muscle tendinous injuries, improves athletic performance and/or prevents muscle soreness.

Physiology of flexibility without injury.

- tendon injuries occur far more frequently than intrinsic muscle injuries - muscles more spasticity.

- with stretching, there is an increase in tissue stiffness, and the stress vs. strain relationship becomes linear. Following this point, there is progressive tissue failure and damage begins to occur.

- whenever a muscle is stretched, the stretch reflex mechanism fires and protects it from being overstretched - safety mechanism!!

** when a subject assumes and sustains a stretching position that develops considerable tension in the muscle, a point is reached where the tension dissipates and the muscle can be stretched even further. Stretch reflex results in less tension in the stretched muscle.

Thermal effects.

- temps above 40 C relax collagen fibres - assist stretching.
- research has shown that low static forces, applied for a long duration to heated tissue, result in permanent deformation of the m-t unit. Hence, warm-up!!
- the heated muscle then requires less time before the muscle deforms - speed of stretch.
- cold temps reduce muscle spasticity - hence ice treatment for injuries.

Training techniques for improved flexibility.


Stationary position with joints maintained in a position that stretches muscle. Is the safest method of improving flexibility.
Method: Stretch is assumed slowly and held for 30-60 seconds. As position is held, the tension from the stretch and stretch reflex contraction becomes strong enough to invoke an inverse stretch reflex. This signals the muscle to relax and be stretched further.


Quick, bobbing movements. At the end of the available range of motion, produced by limb weight or contraction of muscle groups antagonist to those being stretched. Can be a dangerous method of stretching as tension created is more than double that during static stretching. Useful at end of static stretching in elite performer.
Method: Stretch assumed and then bobbing motion occurs at end of ROM to utilize elastic energy available. May promote muscle stiffness and prevent injury?


Stretch statically at the end of ROM, contract muscle slightly, relax as assistant gently pushes limb further.
Method: Agonist contraction causes golgi tendon activity promoting subsequent relaxation. Does tend to promote strength as well as a stretch.

Recommendations as a result of previous research...
[Stretching should be done in the morning and/or at night.
[Always and only stretch when warm.
[Each stretch should be held for at least 30-60 seconds.

[Stretching should be done by everybody who considers themself "elite" for 15 minutes before training (maintenance) and at least 30 minutes after training at home to aid in recovery - lactic acid removal, restretch tissues (improvement gains).

[Research shows that the optimum time to improve flexibility is after cool down has taken place (ie at home.)

Prevention of injuries through diet etc.
- the importance of hydration (water uptake) before and during activity should not be under estimated.
- a lack of water during training can have disastrous effects.
- if you only drink when you are thirsty, it’s already too late - dehydration.


- our body is made up of a number of cells. These cells only operate under instances of hydration.


1. Athlete trains hard.
2. Water leaves the cell.
3. Water then leaves our body through the skin and acts as a coolant for our body.
3. Also within the water dissipated is sodium and potassium (Na+ and K+).
4. K+ and Na+ keep the cell stable and "ready for action".
5. Without fluid intake, more water ( and K+ and Na+) leaves the cell.
6. Eventually, a lack of Na+ and K+ leaves the cell "under-charged".
7. Eventually, the nervous system can’t keep up the demands of the task.
8. This leads to a decrease in coordination.

Water etc is required for:
Energy production, temperature control, elimination of metabolite by-products, maintenance of plasma volume, minimises increases in HR and core temp.

Recommendations as a result of previous research...

[150 - 250 ml of cool fluid every 15-20 minutes is desirable.
[Carry your own water bottle as a part of your training kit.
[Powerade etc. may have minimal effects over water.

Physiological reasoning behind the importance of diet.

- karateka operate between lactacid (Glycolysis) and aerobic (Oxidative Metabolism).
- carbohydrates the most important (CHO)
- prime source of energy as it serves to replenish and maintain muscle glycogen stores.
- exhaustion often coincides with glycogen depletion.
- correlation between pre-excersise muscle glycogen level and time to exhaustion.

Recommendations as a result of previous research...

[If possible, eat a meal high in CHO 3-4 hrs prior to training.
[This meal can include: cereals, fruits, juices, bread, rolls, scones, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, honey, preserves, banana, pasta, rice, noodles.
[Avoid - butter, margarine and cream.
[Not always possible, but maybe a sandwich at 2.30pm for lunch for eg.

[IMPORTANT: CHO feeding 0-5 min before event can greatly enhance performance.]