Cervical Pain and Boxing: Explanations
Many boxers, professionals, or amateurs experience neck pain regularly. Repeated trauma to this area of the body can cause daily discomfort that can lead to headaches, neck and muscle pain (trapezius), as well as radiation to the arms. Here are some explanations...
How do cervical muscles work and what happens during violent impingement?
We have 7 cervical vertebrae stacked on top of each other. At each vertebral level, there are two small posterior joints surrounded by muscles and ligaments. These joints have a very important role.
When we turn our head to the side, it is the correlation of the movement of each vertebral plane that makes it possible to obtain a large amplitude of global rotation.
These small joints should be able to move smoothly. The surrounding muscles and ligaments must be relaxed to ensure proper functioning.
When a boxer receives a violent blow, his head suddenly rotates. The cervical spine then undergoes a sudden, rapid and not always acceptable rotation. This results in muscle and joint tension in a firm area. Thus, the blow does not directly target the cervix but the latter suffers the consequences. We are talking about an indirect shock.
Tensions can last for several weeks or even several months and cause painful irradiation at a distance (head, shoulder, back, arm and hand).
In fact, at each vertebral level a nerve root appears. This nerve root corresponds to the origin of the nerves intended for the upper extremities.
As you will understand, indirect trauma to the neck can cause significant local or remote dysfunction and pain.
Examples of symptoms caused by cervical dysfunction
Dysfunctions in the upper part of the cervix (the first four cervical vertebrae) can cause:
Pain at the base of the skull.
Headache, especially on one side of the skull.
Pain in the forehead and/or eyebrow (often on one side only).
Disorders of tears in the eyes (dry eyes).
Pain radiating into the jaw.
Difficulty turning the head.
Difficulty staying in a sitting position for a long time (computer, driving, etc.)
Lower cervical dysfunction (last 3 cervical vertebrae) can cause:
Pain in the shoulders and trapezius.
The pain radiates to the shoulder.
Diffuse pain in the arm, hands, and fingers (often on one or two fingers in particular).
Strange sensation of having 'cotton' fingertips.
Tingling or tingling in the arms, hands and fingers.
Whatever the symptoms, they seem to worsen if the head is tilted forward for a long time to consult a smartphone or read for example. They tend to decrease if the muscles are at rest (lying on your back).
How to reduce the appearance of pain?
To prevent the appearance of malfunctions, several tips can be given.
First, the specific strengthening of the neck muscles will allow better support for the cervical vertebrae. The shocks received will be better tolerated.
Then manage the intensity of training / fights with the coach must be reconsidered. Indeed, after being subjected to repeated trauma (or major trauma), the body needs to rest. You must give your body time to recover so that you can fight other battles again. Unfortunately, this management is not always well received in the world of boxing. But contrary to what we can sometimes hear, it is not by absorbing
more and more that we become stronger and more resistant. With this kind of practice, the chances of not being able to practice at all for several months doubles. Smart management can be as simple as reducing out-of-competition fights or refusing to participate in the competition. Think long term instead of short term!
Also, to reduce the risk of pain, it is recommended that it is regularly followed by a specialist therapist (physiotherapist, orthopedist, chiropractor, etc.). Do not wait until the pain is firmly fixed for the consultation. Regular practice of sports puts a lot of stress on the body. Boxing, in this case, is a particularly traumatic sport that justifies regular monitoring.
Finally, creating a program of specific movements to practice regularly will lead to real improvement. Ask your physical therapist for advice.