How to Recover from Common MMA Injuries

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is an intense and demanding sport that combines various fighting techniques from around the globe, pushing athletes to their physical limits. With this high intensity, injuries are not uncommon, ranging from minor bruises to more serious conditions that can sideline fighters for months. Recovering from such injuries is crucial for returning to training, maintaining overall health, and preventing future harm. 

Let’s see how to recover from common injuries incurred during MMA classes with effective rehabilitation strategies, essential prevention tips, and advice from experts in the field. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned fighter, understanding how to manage and recover from injuries can help keep you safe and improve your performance in the ring.

Understanding Common MMA Injuries

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a physically demanding sport involving striking, grappling, and wrestling techniques. With the diverse range of movements and high-intensity training involved, it’s no surprise that injuries are common among practitioners. Understanding the types of injuries prevalent in MMA is crucial for both prevention and effective treatment.

Sprains and Strains

One of the most frequent types of injuries in MMA, sprains and strains, occur when ligaments or muscles are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. This can happen during explosive movements or sudden changes in direction, such as throwing a punch or executing a takedown.


Fractures, or broken bones, can occur in MMA due to direct impact or excessive force applied to a bone. Common fractures include broken noses, fingers, and toes, often resulting from strikes or awkward landings during takedowns.


Concussions are a significant concern in MMA, particularly during striking exchanges and ground-and-pound situations. These traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain is jolted or shaken within the skull, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

Contusions and Hematomas

Contusions, or bruises, are common in MMA due to the impact of strikes and grappling maneuvers. These superficial injuries result from rupturing blood vessels beneath the skin, leading to localized discoloration and swelling. Hematomas are a more severe form of contusion characterized by blood accumulation outside blood vessels.

Overuse Injuries

In addition to acute injuries, MMA practitioners are also susceptible to overuse injuries resulting from repetitive strain on muscles, tendons, and joints. These injuries can develop gradually over time and may include tendonitis, bursitis, and stress fractures.

Immediate Steps After Injury

Injuries are inevitable in MMA training and competition, but how you respond in the immediate aftermath can significantly impact your recovery time and overall well-being. Here are the essential steps to take immediately after sustaining an injury:

Recognize the Signs of Injury

Whether it’s a sharp pain during a grappling exchange or a sudden twist during a striking combination, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of injury immediately. Ignoring pain or attempting to push through it can exacerbate the problem and lead to further damage.

Stop Activity

If you suspect you’ve sustained an injury, stopping the activity immediately is crucial. Training or competing while injured can exacerbate the damage and significantly extend your recovery time. It’s important to listen to your body’s signals, such as pain or discomfort, and prioritize your health and safety. Remember to seek appropriate medical attention and allow ample time for rest. Recovery is a key step in ensuring a full and efficient healing process.

Apply the R.I.C.E. Method

The R.I.C.E. method—Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation—is a standard protocol for treating acute injuries in sports. Start by resting the injured area and avoiding activities that cause pain or discomfort. Apply ice to the injured area to reduce swelling and inflammation, using a barrier such as a towel to protect the skin. Use compression, such as an elastic bandage, to stabilize the injury and minimize swelling. Finally, elevate the injured limb above the heart level to reduce swelling further.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Not all injuries are minor, and some may require immediate medical attention. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or loss of function, or if you suspect a fracture or concussion, seek medical help right away. A healthcare professional can assess the extent of your injury and provide appropriate treatment to facilitate your recovery.

Avoid Self-Diagnosis and Treatment

While taking immediate action after sustaining an injury is essential, it’s equally important to avoid self-diagnosis and treatment. Attempting to diagnose and treat your injury without professional guidance can lead to mismanagement and potentially worsen the condition. Trust in the expertise of healthcare professionals to provide accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs.

Rehabilitation and Recovery Strategies

Relying on proper rehabilitation and recovery strategies is crucial for a successful recovery. It requires a combination of rest, physical therapy, and a gradual return to activities. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and recommendations for exercises and stretches to promote healing and strengthen the affected area.

Physical Therapy Sessions

Physical therapy sessions enhance one’s range of motion, flexibility, and strength. In addition, these sessions may incorporate various techniques like targeted massage to address specific muscle groups, heat or ice therapy to alleviate discomfort, and electrical stimulation for pain relief and to reduce inflammation. The comprehensive physical therapy approach aims to address individual needs and promote overall well-being.

Activities and Exercises

Activities and exercises are crucial to the recovery process from a musculoskeletal injury. Follow a gradual progression plan to avoid further strain or re-injury. This may include starting with low-impact activities such as walking or swimming, then gradually incorporating more challenging exercises like weightlifting or running. These activities can help improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Additionally, targeted exercises may target specific muscle groups that need strengthening or stretching.

Prescription Pain Medications

In certain situations, when individuals are facing postoperative discomfort or pain due to an injury, their healthcare provider might consider prescribing pain medications as a part of the recovery plan. These medications can be crucial in managing pain effectively, allowing patients to focus on their healing process. However, it is vital for patients to adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage instructions provided by the healthcare professional and never surpass the recommended amount, as this can lead to adverse effects or complications. It is always advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for any concerns or queries regarding the medication or its usage.

Chiropractic Care If Necessary

If the pain persists or becomes chronic, chiropractic care can also effectively manage postoperative discomfort. Chiropractors use spinal adjustments and other techniques to help alleviate pain and promote healing. They also provide individualized treatment plans that can address any underlying issues contributing to the pain.

Moreover, chiropractic care can help prevent future injuries by improving overall spine health and promoting better posture. This is especially beneficial for individuals who have undergone surgery, as it can aid in a faster recovery and reduce the risk of recurring pain or injuries.

Mental and Emotional Recovery

Dealing with the frustration of being sidelined, the fear of reinjury, and the disappointment of setbacks can be challenging. Seek support from family and friends, and consider speaking with a therapist to help manage any negative emotions. Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can also help manage stress and promote relaxation. Additionally, engaging in low-impact activities like yoga or swimming can aid physical and emotional recovery after surgery.

Preventative Measures for Future Injuries

Injuries are an inevitable part of MMA, but there are steps you can take to reduce their likelihood and severity. By incorporating preventative measures into your training regimen, you can safeguard your health and prolong your longevity in the sport.

Emphasize Proper Technique and Form

Proper technique is essential for reducing the risk of injury in MMA. Focusing on correct form during training sessions can minimize unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. Work with a qualified coach or instructor to ensure you’re executing techniques safely and efficiently, paying close attention to body mechanics and alignment.

Implement Adequate Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are crucial components of injury prevention in MMA. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and an increased risk of injury. Incorporate rest days into your training schedule to allow your body time to recuperate and regenerate. Listen to your body’s signals and prioritize sleep, nutrition, and stress management to support optimal recovery.

Use Protective Gear

Protective gear can provide an extra defense against injury during training and competition. Invest in high-quality equipment such as mouthguards, gloves, shin guards, and headgear to minimize the impact of strikes and reduce the risk of facial and head injuries. Ensure your gear fits properly and is in good condition for maximum protection.

Cross-Train for Balanced Fitness

Cross-training is an effective way to improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of overuse injuries in MMA. Incorporate various activities into your training routine, such as strength training, cardiovascular exercise, flexibility training, and mobility work. Engaging in diverse forms of physical activity can help prevent muscle imbalances, enhance athletic performance, and mitigate the risk of injury.

Listen to Your Body

The most important preventative measure is to listen to your body and respect its limits. Pushing through pain or discomfort can lead to serious injury and prolonged recovery time. Pay attention to any warning signs of overtraining or impending injury, such as persistent soreness, decreased range of motion, or joint instability. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to modify your training or seek professional guidance.

Empowering Recovery in Your MMA Journey

Injuries are inevitable in the MMA journey, but they don’t have to define your path. By embracing resilience and taking proactive steps toward recovery, you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. Whether understanding common MMA injuries, taking immediate action after injury, or implementing effective rehabilitation strategies, the key is to prioritize your health and well-being. With the right mindset and approach, you can bounce back stronger and continue to pursue your passion for MMA with confidence and resilience. 

So, embrace the journey, empower your recovery, and let nothing stand in the way of your martial arts dreams.

About Micah Drews

After playing volleyball at an international level for several years, I now work out and write for Volleyball Blaze. Creating unique and insightful perspectives through my experience and knowledge is one of my top priorities.

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