No one likes to talk about brain damage and concussions, yet these injuries aren’t exclusive to boxing and other contact sports. To perform your best and avoid injury, it’s important to face these issues head-on, protect yourself appropriately, and take the required measures. This is true for all athletes participating in contact sports. It is possible to prevent brain damage or a concussion by taking many sensible precautions.
When the brain is jolted back and forth inside the skull, it can cause knockout or concussion-type damage. Your 3lb mass (approximately) comprises gray matter, linked to white matter, nerve cells, through networks of white matter. They have axons that transmit impulses from one cell to another. Every aspect of your brain’s operation may be traced back to these connections. When you’re hit, your brain sloshes against your skull’s walls, temporarily disrupting these connections. In boxing parlance, getting struck like that indicates you were rocked, shocked, buzzed, or knocked out in the most extreme circumstances. There is no way to prevent this from happening, but you may take certain precautionary measures and increase your chances of success.
When compared to pro boxing, amateur boxing has a lower incidence of concussions. In amateur boxing, shorter bout durations and increased application of rigorous safety measures, such as standing eight counts, may have contributed to the decrease in concussions. Even so, amateur boxers may have a 13 percent probability of suffering a concussion every time they enter the ring for a match.
Concussions are often thought to be minor ailments, but they can be life-threatening if not treated properly. Some doctors will just advise you to relax and refrain from using screens for a week or two after your surgery. Let’s be clear about it: a concussion is more than simply a severe headache that occurs after hitting your head too hard. TBI (traumatic brain injury) is a type of brain damage that can have long-term consequences. Major injuries may need the use of more complex treatment protocols.
Preventing fatalities and debilitating disorders like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), resulting from boxing-related brain damage, is a hot topic. Nobody knows for sure which patients will have major issues and which ones will not. Only by avoiding head trauma and concussions can boxing head injuries be avoided.
The first thing you can do to protect your head isn’t to build up your neck strength, but it is the first step in the right direction. Keep your head down. It’s common sense, but some boxers often posture up too high, open themselves up while they’re hitting, and don’t keep their chins tucked under their shoulders when they’re fighting. Make sure this isn’t you when you’re shadowboxing in the mirror. The best defense you can have is a good technique.
Concussion risk was reduced by 5 percent for every one-pound improvement in neck strength discovered in a study of high school football players. Because this study hasn’t been reproduced with boxers, these conclusions should be given special consideration of skepticism. There’s no harm in having a checkup on your neck health. Strengthening your neck may be done at home with resistance bands, or you can consult a physiotherapist for specialist advice. When it comes to neck workouts, it’s better to seek the advice of a trained specialist if you’re a beginner. You don’t want to injure your neck when exercising, which may be quite painful.
Your neck muscles can help you avoid and limit the amount of impact you take during competition, whether it’s sparring or a real fight. Increase your capacity to absorb each blow to minimize the quick acceleration that occurs when you are hit, forcing your brain to bang against the interior wall of your skull. There is less of a reaction to a clean strike if you have strong neck and shoulder muscles.
Reduce the amount of forceful head movement that happens when you are hit with a punch to use this technique. Strengthening your neck muscles will allow you to absorb better impact and prevent your head from being thrown about. For this, incorporate a sequence of neck exercises in your workout. Develop your neck muscles by working out three times a week for no less than 10 minutes each time. It may seem little and insignificant, but it may have a major impact on your ability to take a blow, continue fighting or have your wits about you after being hit clean.
With a towel wrapped around your head, you may do this resistance-type workout. Your partner can give just the right amount of resistance to make it difficult for you to turn your head as you nod your head back and forth or side to side. Force and gravity are used to produce resistance in this method, which is both safe and effective.
Bridges are another option. Rest your head on a towel or pad placed on the floor. Balance on your toes, utilizing only your neck muscles to keep you steady as you ascend. Avoid compressing your spine by rotating your head in all directions to gain a full view of your neck. Rather than focusing on the vertebrae in your back, these workouts should target the muscles in your neck. Leaning against a wall and varying the amount of force you exert by how near or far away you are from it is another technique to achieve this.
Protecting oneself is all about minimizing or preventing harm. The mouthpiece you’re using is also an important consideration in this equation. A decent mouthpiece isn’t simply about keeping the teeth apart to prevent a trip to the dentist. In addition to protecting your teeth and gums, a proper mouthguard separates your jaw bone from the base of your skull, reducing the risk of injury. In a sense, it acts as a buffer. Your mouthpiece is lowering the amount of bone-on-bone contact and creating an air pocket between your jaw and your brain to assist in dispersing the blow.
Taking supplements and doing everything you can to counteract the negative effects of being struck is another protective strategy. According to certain research findings, the portion of the brain that creates dopamine, known as the substantia nigra, can be protected by a diet rich in antioxidants. Oxidative damage is a major problem for boxers. Hence it is hypothesized that antioxidants and high dosages of vitamins C and E will help protect neurons. The addition of vitamins and nutrients to your daily routine can aid in your mental clarity.
If you are looking for protective gears for boxing, check out our pieces on the gears for boxing!
Most gyms and trainers avoid talking about head trauma since it’s seen as a taboo topic. Even if it’s unwelcome, it’s part of the game. It’s a component of every sport, and scientists and athletic administrators are becoming increasingly aware of the long-term consequences of repeated concussions. To avoid this problem, you need to be proactive in this area.
Awareness, insight, and preparation are all that are required to win. The most apparent preventative measures, like wearing adequate equipment and having your guard up in the correct position, are important, but it’s the tiny things that matter. It’s easy to neglect neck workouts, mouthpiece choices, and what you put in your body, yet these are the things champions pay attention to. All parts of their game will be worked on, from attack to defense to anything else that might help them get better. This is a sport where blunders and complacency are not tolerated, so play it intelligently. It’s up to you whether or not you utilize your mind.