Martial arts>Research>Health



Research into different aspects of martial arts health.

Adolescent physical activity

Adolescent flexibility, endurance strength, and physical activity as predictors of adult tension neck, low back pain, and knee injury: a 25 year follow up study.
L. Mikkelsson, H, Nupponen, J, Kaprio, H, Kautiainen, M, Mikkelsso , and U. Kujala
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006; 0:107-113

This study examined whether adolescent flexibility, endurance strength, and physical activity can predict the later occurrence of recurrent low back pain, tension neck, or knee injury.

In 1976, 520 men and 605 women participated in a sit and reach test (flexibility) and a 30-second sit-up test (endurance strength). In 1976 and 2001, they completed a questionnaire. Lifetime occurrence and risk of self-reported low back pain and self-reported, physician-diagnosed tension neck and knee injury were calculated for subjects.

Men with the highest flexibility were at lower risk of tension neck than those with the lowest. Women with the highest endurance strength were at lower risk of tension neck than those with the lowest. Men with the highest endurance strength were at higher risk of knee injury than those from the lowest. Men who at school age participated in physical activity were at lower risk of recurrent low back pain than those who did not.

Conclusions. Overall good flexibility in boys and good endurance strength in girls may contribute to a decreased risk of tension neck. High endurance strength in boys may indicate an increased risk of knee injury.

Effect of martial arts on mood

A comparative study of the effects of martial arts training on mood.
A. Yiannakis and P. Thomporowski
Paper presented at 2003 International Conference on Education

Numerous studies have shown that exercise has a beneficial effect on the reduction of stress, enhancement of mood, and lessening of depression. Martial art proponents have long claimed that the martial arts yield similar results, but is this true.

This study found that the martial arts, specifically judo, jiujutsu, and karate, are beneficial in these respects. The study speculated that the results may have been because of the interaction of self-selection and the arts themselves, the teachings, the philosophy and structure of each art, the intensity and type of the workout, and the degree to which each martial art stresses a sporting or combative orientation.

Conclusions. The martial arts empower participants and supply an array of psychological and physical tools to enable them to stand one’s ground, manage conflict, help people in need, and retain a degree of control over their lives.

Physical activity and mortality

Physical activity of moderate intensity in leisure time and the risk of all-cause mortality.
J. Bucksch
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2005; 39:632-638

There are conflicting data about the health benefits of moderately intense physical activity, so this study examined the effect of such activity on all-cause mortality in a German sample of men and women.

Physical activity during leisure time of 3742 men and 3445 women aged 30 to 69 was assessed in a baseline questionnaire from 1984 to 1986. The participants were observed during the follow-up period until 1998 when a mortality follow up was conducted.

During the follow-up period, 300 women and 643 men had died. Moderate intensity activity (for example, gardening, walking, cycling) compared with sedentary lifestyle showed a clearly protective relationship in women but not in men. Following the recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity, a second analysis was conducted; 2.5 hours per week taking part in physical activity of moderate intensity decreased the relative risk of overall mortality for women and men.

Conclusions. The volume of lifestyle activities of moderate intensity in leisure time was inversely associated with all-cause mortality in women but not in men. Regarding the health-enhancing physical activity recommendation as a threshold, there were favorable findings only in women.

Mood and karateka

Mood and performance in young Malaysian karateka.
R. Wong, J. Thung, and W. Pieter
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 54 - 59

To test the conceptual model by Lane and Terry, the purposes of this study were to assess mood states in non-depressed and depressed young karate athletes and to assess mood states in relation to performance in young karate athletes.

The participants (72 males and; 37 females) were recruited from the 2004 Malaysian Games. The athletes were divided into winners (medalists) and losers.

Conclusions. In terms of non-depressed and depressed mood, tension in the females was higher in the depressed group, as was fatigue. The tension in the males was higher in the depressed group, as was anger. The highest associations among mood subscales were between anger and depression, and between depression and fatigue in depressed males. The female winning karateka scored higher on anger. The highest correlations between mood dimensions in depressed females were between depression and anger and between depression and confusion. Contrary to previous research on the influence of depression on anger, only the female winners scored higher on anger. Several negative mood dimensions were higher in both male and female depressed groups, lending some support to the conceptual model advanced by Lane and Terry.

Low bone density in women

Low bone mineral density is two to three times more prevalent in non-athletic premenopausal women than in elite athletes: a comprehensive controlled study.
M. Torstveit and J. Sundgot-Borgen
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2005; 39:282-287

This study compared bone mineral density (BMD), investigated factors associated with BMD, and examined the prevalence of low BMD in athletes and non-athletic controls.

The study included a questionnaire measurement of BMD and a clinical interview. Participants were 938 Norwegian female athletes on national teams and an aged-matched a random sample of 900 non-athletic controls.

Mean total body BMD was higher in athletes than in controls, and higher in high impact sports athletes than in medium impact and low impact sports athletes. In athletes, body weight and impact loading sports were positively associated, and percent body fat and eating disorders were negatively associated with total body BMD. Body weight and weight-bearing activities were positively associated and menstrual dysfunction was negatively associated with total body BMD in controls. A higher percentage of controls (28.3%) than athletes (10.7%) had low BMD.

Conclusions. Female elite athletes have 3–20% higher BMD than non-athletic controls and high impact sports athletes have 3–22% higher BMD compared with medium and low impact sports athletes. Low BMD is two to three times more common in non-athletic premenopausal women than in elite athletes.

Physiological profile of boxers

Physiological profile of senior and junior England international amateur boxers.
M. Smith
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 74 - 89

Despite worldwide popularity of amateur boxing, research focused on the physiological demands of the sport is limited. The physiological profile of Senior and Junior England international amateur boxers is presented.

A gradual (8 to 21 days) and rapid (0 to 7 days) phase of body weight reduction was evident with 2.2 % weight loss occurring over the final 24-hours. An increase in body weight >4% was observed following a recovery period.

High urine osmolality values were recorded during training and competition. High post-competition blood lactate values highlighted the need for a well-developed anaerobic capacity and the importance of not entering the ring in a glycogen depleted state.

The aerobic challenge of competition was demonstrated by maximum heart rate values being recorded during 'Open' sparring. Mean body fat values of 9-10% were like those reported for other weight classified athletes. Normal resting values were reported for hematocrit, hemoglobin, bilirubin, and ferritin. No symptoms associated with asthma or exercise-induced asthma was evident. A well- developed aerobic capacity was reflected in the Senior VO2max. Senior lead hand straight punching force (head 1722 N and body 1682 N) was lower than the straight rear hand (head 2643 N and body 2646 N), lead hook (head 2412 and body 2414 N) and rear hook (head 2588 N and body 2555 N).

Conclusions. It was concluded that amateur boxing performance is dependent on the interplay between anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Current weight making methods may lead to impaired substrate availability, leading to reduced competitive performance and an increased risk to a boxer’s health.

Rapid weight loss and mood

Effects of rapid weight loss on mood and performance among amateur boxers.
C. Hall and A. Lane
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2001; 35:390-395

This study examined the effects of rapid weight loss on mood and performance among amateur boxers.

Participants were 16 experienced amateur boxers. In stage 1, structured interviews were used to assess the type of strategies that boxers used to reduce weight and the value of performing at their desired weight in terms of performance. In stage 2, boxers completed a 4 x 2-minute (1-minute recovery) circuit training session. Boxers completed the circuit training session on three different occasions with a week between each. The first test was used to familiarize the boxers with the circuit training task; the second and third tasks were at their training weight and championship weight, respectively. Participants were given one week to reduce their body weight to their championship weight using their preferred weight making strategies; boxers reduced their body weight by an average of 5.16% of body weight.

Boxers typically lost weight by restricting fluid and food intake in the week leading to competition. Measures indicated that rapid weight loss among boxers was associated with poor performance, increased anger, fatigue, and tension, and reduced vigor.

Conclusions. Strategies used to make weight by boxers are associated with poor performance and a negative mood profile.

Bronchoconstriction  in athletes

The prevalence of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in elite athletes.
M. Unal, T. Sahinkaya, De.NamaraslĂ˝, V. Akkaya, and A. Kayserilioglu
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2004) 3, 57-59

For years exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) has been considered as a form of asthma which can be provoked by exercise and air pollution. However, further studies indicated that EIB was not only restricted to asthmatic patients but could also be seen in healthy individuals. EIB was described as an acute and reversible bronchoconstriction induced 5 to 15 minutes after exercise in certain susceptible individuals.

The incidence of EIB is more than twice as high among athletes (11-50%) compared to the normal population (4-20%). Furthermore, its prevalence is twice as high among winter sports' athletes compared to summer sports' athletes.

The purpose of this cross-sectional study is to evaluate the prevalence of EIB among elite athletes. The study population consists of 126 male elite athletes (85 soccer players, 25 karate practitioners, 11 swimmers, and 5 wrestlers). After performing the respiratory function tests, athletes exercised on a treadmill. The speed and the grade of the treadmill increased every 3 minutes according to the protocol until the exhaustion.

Electrocardiography (ECG) and blood pressure were continuously monitored, as oxygen uptake was being measured with the "breath by breath" system during the test.

Conclusions. The study found that c 11% to 14% of the elite athletes have EIB when they are tested in laboratory conditions. However, there is no statistical difference in athletic performance (exercise duration and VO2peak) between the groups.

Tai chi chaun and mobility

Regular tai chi chuan exercise enhances functional mobility and CD4CD25 regulatory T cells.
S. Yeh, H. Chuan2, L. Lin, C. Hsiao, and H. En
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006; 40:239-243

The duration and vigor of physical exercise are widely considered to be critical elements that may positively or negatively affect physical health and immune response. This study investigated the effect of a 12 week programmed of regular tai chi chuan exercise (TCC) on functional mobility, beliefs about benefits of exercise on physical and psychological health, and immune regulation in middle-aged volunteers.

The quasi-experimental research design involved one group with testing before and after the program was conducted to measure the effect of 12 weeks of TCC exercise in 14 men and 23 women from the normal community.

Conclusions. A 12-week program of regular TCC exercise enhances functional mobility, personal health expectations, and regulatory T cell function.

Martial arts and disabilities 

The physical and psychological benefits of martial arts training for individuals with disabilities
R. Martin
A 2002 graduate research paper at the University of Wisconsin-Stout

This study sought to determine the physical and emotional benefits of martial arts training for persons with disabilities. The study used the results of questionnaires presented to disabled martial art participants.

Conclusions. Results suggested that martial art training does help improve physical functioning, especially in the area of increased strength, balance, and stamina. In addition, they increase the sense of wellbeing and offer an overall improvement in the quality of life.

Study of Indian boxers

Study of physiological profile of Indian boxers.
G. Khanna and I. Manna
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 90 - 98

The present study was conducted to study the morphological, physiological and biochemical characteristics of Indian National boxers as well as to assess the cardiovascular adaptation to graded exercise and actual boxing round.

The study evaluated junior (<19 years of age) and senior (0-25 year of age) boxers in different weight categories.

Conclusions. Results showed a significantly higher stature, body mass, LBM, body fat, and strength of back and grip in senior boxers compared to juniors. Moreover, the senior boxers possessed mesomorphic body conformation whereas the juniors' possessed ectomorphic body conformation. Significantly lower aerobic capacity and anaerobic power were noted in junior boxers compared to seniors. Further, significantly higher maximal heart rates and recovery heart rates were observed in the seniors as compared to the juniors. Significantly higher maximum heart rates were noted during actual boxing compared to graded exercise.

Blood lactate concentration was found to increase with the increase of workload during both graded exercise and actual boxing round. The senior boxers showed significantly elevated levels of hemoglobin, blood urea, uric acid, and peak lactate as compared to junior boxers. In the senior boxers, significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDLC were observed as compared to junior boxers. No significant change has been noted in HDLC between the groups. The age and level of training in boxing has a significant effect on aerobic, anaerobic component.

Conclusions. The study of physiological responses during graded exercise testing may be helpful to observe the cardiovascular adaptation in boxers.

Sumo vs. combat sports

Comparison of normalized maximum aerobic capacity and body composition of sumo wrestlers to athletes in combat and other sports.
M. Beekley, T. Abe, M. Kondo, T.i Midorikawa, and T. Yamauchi
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2006) 5 (CSSI), 13 - 20

Sumo wrestling is unique in combat sports, and in all of sports. This study examined the maximum aerobic capacity and body composition of sumo wrestlers and compared them to untrained controls. It also compared "aerobic muscle quality", meaning VO2max normalized to predicted skeletal muscle mass (SMM), between sumo wrestlers and controls and among previously published data for male athletes from combat, aerobic, and power sports.

Sumo wrestlers, compared to untrained controls, had greater body mass, percent fat, fat-free mass, predicted SMM, and absolute VO2max. Mean VO2max /SMM was significantly different among aerobic athletes, combat athletes (which was not different from untrained controls), power athletes, and sumo wrestlers. There was a strong negative correlation between percent body fat and VO2max /SMM.

Conclusions. Sumo wrestlers have some of the largest percent body fat and fat-free mass and the lowest "aerobic muscle quality," both in combat sport and compared to aerobic and power sports athletes.

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