Posture Exercise for Mixed Martial Arts Competitors
In the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training and competitions, fighters find that working towards better posture gives them a greater control of fighting stance and movement – thus leading to more control of the fight’s outcome and a lesser likelihood of injury.
With unique insight into both treating MMA fighters and training in MMA herself, Dr. Amy Bowzaylo has seen tremendous progress in the MMA patients she treats with StrongPosture® exercise. As a chiropractor and Certified Posture Exercise Professional (CPEP®) with experience in competitive gymnastics, dance, and kickboxing, Dr. Bowzaylo reports, “The biggest difference I’ve seen in my MMA competitors since implementing posture rehab treatment is an absence of anterior shoulder pain. One of my Muay Thai patients saw improvement in just a couple of weeks. His punches and reaction time have become quicker and stronger.”
She further explains, “When the body is working at full biomechanical efficiency, it has the ability to utilize full range of motion to bring power and unimpeded follow-through to combative moves. A body that is not in proper balance is inhibited in its movement.”
Dr. Mark Schmall, a chiropractor, CPEP with experience in MMA submission/grappling, has experienced similar results. In just eight weeks of following the StrongPosture® protocols, he has already improved his own training and is confident that he can help others in the field, as well.
“In the two months that I’ve been working on my strengthening my posture, I have experienced increased mobility, less muscle spasms, and improved hip and lower back range-of-motion. I also feel less fatigued and have had faster recuperation from my MMA sessions.”
Dr. Schmall became involved in MMA 15 years ago after a UFC fighter came to his practice for treatment. He began receiving word-of-mouth referrals from other MMA fighters, wrestlers, and boxers, which piqued his interest in the realm of competitive fighting. In addition to treating these competitors, he began training in MMA himself, specifically focusing on submission/grappling.
“When training or fighting in submission/grappling, your lower body and upper body have to be connected. If your core is not strong, you won’t have the optimal connectivity with your limbs. In any field of fighting, deficits in balance mean you will easily topple over and not be in control of your movement. StrongPosture® exercise gives you the decision-making ability to decide when fight will be standing or on the ground.”
In addition to improving combat ability, posture rehab helps injury recovery, as well as prevention. “Fighters, as with many other competitive athletes, see over-exaggeration in some muscle groups due to repetitive training in specific motions,” Dr. Schmall says. “These imbalances can lead to serious injury if not addressed. When there is alignment of the head over the spine and of the pelvis over your lower extremities, you will have a strong center of gravity; this is crucial for MMA fighters to avoid injury when training or competing.”
To optimize her patients’ fighting stance and performance, Dr. Bowzaylo prescribes various posture restorative exercises, specifically for thoracic strength.
“When my patients compete, the full weight of their upper bodies is hingeing at the thoracolumbar junction, which can be at serious risk of injury during a fight. For that reason, we focus a lot on the alignment protocols, especially pelvic tilts, Posture Angels, neck retractions, and thoracic extension with foam rollers to build proper alignment and core strength to prevent injury.”
In addition to utilizing posture rehab for injury prevention, Bowzaylo believes that prevention is a two-fold process that includes patient education and posture awareness.
“You can heal an injury through rehab, but if you continue to engage in poor posture habits, the injuries will come back. By reinforcing proper movement patterns and training your body to maintain good posture, it becomes second nature. When MMA fighters become posture aware in their training, as well as their everyday routine, they are much more likely to avoid pain and injury during their training and competitions, as well as have an upper hand against their opponents.”
Schmall agrees, saying, “MMA competitors should frequently work on improving balance, alignment and motion to improve their fighting abilities and reduce their risk of injury.” He continues, “StrongPosture® exercise gives fighters a distinct advantage, and because of my own experience in the field of MMA, I have an advantage to treat this class of patients.”