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Heavy Bag Injuries And How To Avoid Them


Hi Randy, I found your articles on heavy bag training to be extremely helpful. I have been boxing ( for fitness and self defense ) for about 8 months. During that time I managed to get the classic boxer’s sprain. I had an X-ray, and nothing was broken. When it didn’t get better -which I didn’t help because I kept training – my Dr. figured I tore a tendon or ligament. The injury got to be so bad that I was put on short-term disability for two weeks at my job. During that time and about two months later, I didn’t hit the heavy bag. That forced me to just concentrate on technique while shadow boxing. When I returned to the bag work- with professional quality gloves-I was ecstatic about how much I had improved. Not to mention the fact that I’m 20lbs. lighter and in the best shape of my life.

Well, that’s where the good news ends. It seems that I get injured almost every time I work out now. I fear that I may have tendinitis in my right wrist, and I seem to pull a muscle in my upper back. At first I was trying to workout 3 times a week ( Mon. Wed. & Fri. ) That is what seemed to be too much for my wrist. Than I discovered that I didn’t have to “kill” the bag in order to achieve the exercise benefits. So that helped my hands, but I seemed to be pulling my back during the warm-up and cool-down parts!! So your article offered a lot of good advice, but I was wondering if you could give me a few pointers with my routine. I do two min. rounds with one min. in between. I start with just the jab for a round, then the cross, then the hook, then knee strikes, then front kicks, then roundhouse kicks, then I add a round or two of 3 strike combos. I feel awesome after. It’s half way through the next day that I learn that I over did it. So this week I have decided to take off from working out as has been suggested in books I’ve read. But I worry that I will gain the 20lbs. that I’ve lost over the past 3 months back. I was thinking maybe a twice a week schedule would be better than the three.

There are no boxing instructors in my area. A co-worker of mine used to compete when he was younger. He helped me with my technique, but the conditioning is becoming very frustrating. I appreciate any help you can give me.

Here’s My Answer

Your experiences with heavy bag training are not uncommon.  I’m sorry to hear about your injuries.

You were bang on, when you took some time off and switched from bag work to shadow boxing. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to training through and injury… I never works and all you do is turn a temporary injury into a chronic, permanent one.

I had so many people at my seminars who wanted to start combative training on heavy bags, focus pads and with training partners that I formalized the guide to assist them in establishing a strong foundation of punching skills first.

As far as your training is concerned, you need to look for alternative activitites that you can do until your tendons recover… Shadow boxing is an excellent one.

Also, working with focus pads is a great alternative to heavy bag work.  In fact, all things being equal, they are in my opinion far superior to heavy bag workouts because of the variety of training drills you can do with them.

The best thing about them for your situation is that there is a lot less resistance and “trauma” to the body when you hit a focus pad.

Slamming your hands as hard as you can into a 60 to 100 lb. heavy bag is the equivalent to stamping your feet as hard as you can into the ground when you run. You’re just going to injure yourself.

When you can hit the heavy bag without pain, I’d suggest you resume your bag work with light, clean hitting dynamics… Power is the result of proper technique plus speed.

You might even find that a good quality set of boxing gloves will provde you with even more hand and tendon protection when doing your bag work.

I hope this helps…  Good luck with your training.

About the Author:

Randy LaHaie is a trainer, consultant and author of the ” Toughen Up Combative Training Series.” He has been studying and teaching self-defense for over 30 years and has instructed thousands of people in dealing with dangerous, volatile and violent situations.

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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  • Edward Colson

    Hey Randy… Thanks for the great site and your words of wisdom. Got some good ideas here!

    • Hey Edward… Thanks for taking the time to connect. I appreciate your input and am glad you found some value in the blog. If you have any specific questions, issues or opinions you want to throw around, don’t hesitate to fire me an email. Good luck with your training.

      • Edward Colson

        Thanks again, Randy!

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