Biochemically, lactic acid build-up will cause fatigue in the muscles, and unless a proper rest period for its removal is provided, the participant will fatigue prematurely. Without such a proper rest period, the acid cannot be used as an oxidative fuel and may result in either a less-than-optimal workout (in the best-case scenario) or a potential cardiovascular or musculoskeletal incident (in the worst-case scenario). Such fatigue can lead to a breakdown in form and, therefore, potential musculoskeletal damage due to hyperextensions or the lack of ability of the antagonist muscles to decelerate the movement and thereby prevent mechanical injury.
Exercise in general is disruptive to skeletal muscle and, therefore, must be limited in intensity. The nature of the movement should also be regulated. For example, an alternating punch combination can be thrown for a longer work period than a single repetitive punch combination since the alternating of hands allows a built-in rest period. Workouts not taking these facts into consideration can be extremely dangerous.
1. The workouts should concentrate on functional movement. Without proper mechanics, the high-velocity nature of the activity can lead to injury. Boxing and kick boxing are highly ballistic movements that must be performed in a controlled manner using the proper body mechanics. For example, punches such as the cross and hook require the proper transfer of forces from the feet through the legs, hips, core muscles, shoulders and arms. Failure to do so may cause undue stress on the joints through this kinetic chain of movements and may potentially result in injury. Too often, instructors sacrifice proper biomechanics for the sake of a flashy combination or more intense pattern. This is both inappropriate and dangerous. The basic mechanisms must be taught before more complex sequences are attempted. Although an injury may not result from a single incident, repetitive micro-trauma resulting from poor form can be debilitating and insidious.
2. Using proper equipment is also very important. Gloves with padding other than foam can compress and lose over 50% of their protective capacity within one or two work bouts if they are used as punching mitts or against a heavy bag. Cheap boxing gloves are like cheap running shoes–they will eventually lead to injury. Proper use of the heavy bag and punch mitts must also be taught. Improper use can easily lead to shoulder and elbow problems, just as improper kicks can lead to ankle, knee and back injuries.
3. Finally, the workout should suit the individual. Although the intervalic nature of this activity allows all individuals to participate at their own pace, they will often attempt to do otherwise. Kick heights should be monitored for the sake of individuals with back or other musculoskeletal weaknesses. Classes should provide alternative movements and speeds. In choreographed classes, these modifications are ignored and may result in poor biomechanics, undue fatigue and injury.
Boxing and kick boxing are excellent tools for promoting cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness–as well as speed, agility and coordination–but instructors must learn the proper use of this exercise. To coin a phrase, a power saw is a great way to cut a board, but it can also take off your fingers.