Although mostly viewed as a high octane combat sport, MMA revolves around recovery, especially for pro athletes after an official match. Some common post-fight injuries include cuts and bruises on both the face and body, while the thighs and ribs can also take some hits. So how long does it take for MMA fighters to recover after a fight?
How Long Does It Take for MMA Fighters To Recover After a Fight?
MMA fighters usually take a few days after a fight to recover from minor wounds, such as cuts or bruises. At the same time, more severe injuries, such as broken limbs, can take weeks or months to heal completely. A fighter’s BMI, health, and recovery techniques also contribute to their recovery time.
This article will discuss the recovery process after an MMA fight, how athletes can improve their recovery time and the common types of injuries after fights.
MMA fighters shouldn’t engage in physical training (weights and cardio) until their affected body parts have recovered enough. This explains why some fighters might even stay a month without physical training or even entering the ring.
MMA fighters might stay out for several months before beginning their training regimens for injuries that require surgery. It all depends on the extent of the damage. Moreover, athletes are usually encouraged to focus more on recovery than training immediately after a fight.
There is no standard recovery time for MMA fighters. The types of hits a fighter takes, coupled with diet, weight, and overall health, all play a huge role in determining recovery times.
What Do MMA Fighters Do To Recover After a Fight?
Physical and mental recovery is a crucial part of MMA. Every athlete needs to take some time to heal, re-energize, and refocus before starting preparations for the next fight. Below are activities MMA fighters do to recover after a fight.
To recover after a fight, MMA fighters focus on eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, letting their bodies rest, and receiving deep tissue massages and ice treatments to help repair their muscles.
Eat Balanced Diets
Every athlete is required to eat well to boost muscle recovery. However, for athletes participating in combat sports, the importance of eating balanced diets and plenty of fluids cannot be overstated.
MMA fighters should give priority to a balanced diet more than anything else. Foods rich in proteins will help promote faster muscle healing while also maintaining muscle mass. It is also crucial to consume proteins before sleep to promote faster recovery through the night.
Foods rich in magnesium such as seeds, whole grains, greens, and nuts also play a pivotal role in relaxing muscles and promoting fat and protein synthesis. MMA fighters should also prioritize omega-3 rich foods like oysters, sardines, salmon, and even supplements like the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega from Amazon.com.
Sleep and Rest
Eating a balanced diet without giving the body enough time to recover is a sure recipe for disaster. As a good rule of thumb, MMA fighters should aim to sleep for a minimum of eight hours after a fight. If possible, fighters should even sleep for more hours, especially after a match.
Sleep stimulates muscle repair and growth as the body releases hormones that reduce and slowly eliminate muscle soreness. Unfortunately, Cortisone levels tend to increase with lack of enough sleep, which affects the production of testosterone, thereby slowing down an athlete’s recovery process.
Deep tissue massage is widely used to fasten the recovery times of MMA fighters after a match. This popular therapy is commonly used in the treatment of musculoskeletal issues like injuries and muscle strains.
Massage therapy, more specifically deep tissue massage, helps break up the scar tissues that form after an injury, thereby reducing tension in the affected tissue. This therapy increases blood flow, promotes faster healing, and reduces inflammation.
Some experts prefer using quality foam rollers like the Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller from Amazon.com to help administer a deep tissue massage and other muscle recovery exercises. The massage techniques used mostly depend on the type of injury and the body parts affected.
An ice bath can play a huge role in boosting recovery times and reducing muscle swells. And although not all MMA fighters take ice baths after a fight, those who do tend to register better recovery times. Ice Packs are also used as alternatives to soothe sore body parts and speed up their recovery times.
Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is another way for MMA fighters to speed up their recovery by destroying irritant nerves. Cryotherapy is practiced by a few MMA fighters but still manages to yield positive outcomes by relieving pain and reducing inflammation.
What Are Common Injuries After an MMA Fight?
Any blow to the head that leaves you disoriented is a medical event. You win an MMA match by knocking your opponent out, applying a hold they cannot escape without dislocations, or injuring them so badly the referee stops the fight. As you might expect, many MMA fights end with one or both fighters injured.
Here are some of the most common injuries you will see after an MMA fight:
- Head injuries
- Hand, wrist, and finger injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
MMA fighters are usually prone to many head injuries, including lacerations, hematomas, dental injuries, concussions, and nasal fractures. Some of these injuries heal fast, while others will need a lot more time to heal.
Hand, Wrist, and Finger Injuries
Hand injuries are common in MMA and often arise when punching or striking the opponent. These injuries usually manifest as fractures of the various interphalangeal joints. Surgery may be required for severely torn ligaments and fractures.
Shoulder injuries are also common in MMA, especially during grappling. Posterior and anterior shoulder dislocations also tend to occur after the overuse of the shoulder muscles. Rotator cuff tears may appear during an armbar, and pectoralis tears frequently happen during takedowns.
As one of the most exposed joints, the knee joint can sustain serious injury when a fighter lands awkwardly or makes sudden movements in different directions. Some common knee injuries include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears.
The risks of injury are usually high in MMA due to the physical nature of the sport. While some wounds heal fast, others require more time to recover fully. As a result, MMA fighters must be as disciplined in recovery as they are inside the ring.
Some serious injuries might require surgery and prolonged rehabilitation. However, mild injuries sustained during fights can be treated by eating healthy, drinking lots of fluids, and allowing the body enough time to recover.
- Very Well Health: Everything You Need to Know About Deep Tissue Massage
- Bleacher Report: MMA the Morning After: The Reality of Recovering from Fight Night
- Fight Back MMA: How do Pro MMA fighters recover faster for the next fight?
- Healthline: Is a Deep Tissue Massage What Your Muscles Need?
- Medical News Today: What are the benefits of cryotherapy?
- Singapore SPORTS and Orthopaedic Clinic: Lacerations Wound
- The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine: Mixed Martial Arts Injuries