One of the most common question we get from people wanting to start Krav Maga or new students is: “Can I get hurt?”
While, we train in the safest conditions possible and we make sure that all students are being pushed at a comfortable level and what we do or they do does not harm them in any way, in Krav Maga, as in life, injuries and getting hurt can and will happen. Now, don’t fear, there’s a solution to all this! Whether in training, Krav Maga or even life, the best possible solution to injuries is: preventing by being physically prepared. And when we are talking preventing and preparedness, professional athletes have a secret. That secret is called General Physical Preparation, also known as GPP. In the GPP phase, athletes work on general conditioning, recovery and warm up and preparation for the more intense training. They perform GPP generally in the off-season as a precaution and preparation method for the Specific Physical Preparation (the actual training). GPP training works on multiple aspects of physical conditioning, but here are the main ones that help prevent injuries:
What it is: Being flexible means your joints have an absolute range of movements and that the muscles that cross your joints are long enough so they are able to produce a bending movement. Flexibility is very important because it allows your joints and muscles to move through a normal range of motion(ROM) and thus to prevent injuries when you are being active.
How to achieve it: Flexibility training is done with stretching. (Yes, that thing you never do after your workout!) Stretching can take various different forms but the 2 most used and most important ones are: Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching.
- Dynamic Stretching also known as active stretching involves taking a muscle through its entire range of motion, starting with a small movement and gradually increasing both movement range and speed. It helps to increase heart rate and blood flow, and wake up the central nervous system. (walking lunges with and without a rotation, lunging and reaching, glute bridges, stepping to balance, power skipping, butt kicks, etc.)
Best done: We recommend dynamic stretching before every activity and if we are talking GPP and injury prevention, we recommend practicing dynamic stretching every morning or at least 4-5 times a week.
- Static Stretching is a stretch in which the muscle is extended and held for a period of time while the body is still. One of the best examples of static stretching is Yoga.
Best done: Static Stretching should be done after a workout or any physical activity as it’s the best cool down period because unlike dynamic stretching, static stretching decreases the heart rate, relaxes the muscle by lengthening them and slows down the central nervous system.
What it is: If we were to define strength with a simple scientific phrase, that would be: “The state or quality or property of being strong.” or “Strength is the ability to create muscular tension”. But strength can be physical and mental. Simply put, strength is having your body (muscles, joints, bones, mind included) ready to react at everything and being able to put it through all range of movements and motion.
How to achieve it: We feel that the best way of achieving strength is through strength training. One of the first and best options to start strength training is to do bodyweight workouts. Bodyweight exercises are a simple and effective way of improving your strength, muscular definition and flexibility without the need for any special equipment and you can train from anywhere. Try some basic bodyweight exercise like: squats, push-ups, lunges, burpees, planks, etc. and combine them in simple but effective workouts.
What it is: Agility is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner and it is a combination of factors: balance, speed, strength and coordination. Being agile and aware of your surroundings is going to help you see those injuries coming before they happen and prevent them.
How to achieve it: The best way of training and improving your agility and reflexes in general, is by practicing exercises and moves that focus on the factors that create agility. Here are a few examples:
- Exercising Outdoors. Physical exercises are a good way to keep your body and you mind strong; and outdoor exercising, such as running in a park or woods, are an excellent way of enhancing your reflexes. You will have to react to changes of terrain, dodge objects in your way and take turns, all creating a variety of stimuli.
- Sparring. The best way to learn how to react faster to a punch or hit, is to get hit or have them coming at you.
- Dodge ball. It sounds like fun and sure is! Dodge ball is not just for kids and is a very effective way of improving your reflexes.
- Reaction ball. A reaction ball is a 6-sided small ball that bounces in unpredictable directions. In short: a reflex monster!
What it is: Balance is the ability to stay upright or stay in control of body movement, no matter the terrain or changes in external factors. There are two types of balance: static and dynamic. Static balance is maintaining equilibrium when stationary, while dynamic balance is maintaining equilibrium when moving.
How to achieve it: The first thing to do to achieve better balance is to understand it. So, find your center of gravity and experiment with it.
- Start with squats. Squats may seem simple, but when doing this exercise, most people struggle with keeping their balance, and that is because their leg muscles are not strong enough. So, start doing squats on a weekly basis.
- Try a single leg balance. Once you’ve strengthen your leg muscles try standing on a single leg. A single leg balance will help you work on strengthening your lower body and challenge your center of gravity.
- Try Yoga or Pilates moves. Yoga and Pilates have a lot of exercises that promote strengthening core muscles by moving between a variety of poses, they will help you train your balance and coordination.
What it is: Power = speed x strength. So, power is basically strong movements, performed with speed. Having power will give you the capacity to move fast out of the way of danger and thus preventing injury.
How to achieve it: If you have strength down you are halfway there. Speed can be achieved by strengthening your muscles and being able to deliver all types of moves with explosiveness. One of the best way to improve power is to do explosive exercises such as HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) exercises. Exercises such as burpees and sprinting can be combined and when done in a short amount of time at a high intensity, they are going to generate the power you need. There you have it! Focus on training and developing all these factors of GPP and you won’t have to worry about injuries because you’ll be able to train with more confidence.