Mixed martial arts (MMA) is an exciting and intense combat sport that has gained in popularity over the past decade. It is a full-contact sport that involves striking, grappling, and ground fighting, which can put a great deal of strain on the participant’s body. In particular, MMA fighters are at risk for developing a range of back and spine injuries. In this article, we will look at the complications associated with back and spine injuries in MMA, as well as the treatments, and preventive measures fans and fighters can take to avoid such issues.

Types Of Back & Spine Injuries From MMA

Head trauma

MMA fighters are especially vulnerable to head trauma, due to the direct contact from strikes and kicks. This trauma can cause injuries to the head, neck, and spine. Head trauma has the potential to put extreme pressure on the delicate cervical area of the spine, which can lead to cervical sprain and cervical strain. This can cause significant pain and restricted mobility.

Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains are other common methods of injury to the back and spine that can occur due to the physical demands of MMA matches. When a ligament is pulled or overstretched, it is referred to as a sprain. Muscle injuries are called strains and occur when the muscle fibers are damaged. A strain is usually the result of an athlete overusing a muscle or tendon without proper warm-up period, or when the muscle contracts too forcefully.

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Herniated discs

Herniated discs are another potential injury that can occur during MMA matches. When the discs in the spinal column become compressed, ruptured, or bulge, it can cause pain and other symptoms like tingling and decreased sensation in the affected area. If a herniated disc is pressing on nerves, it can put significant pressure on the body, and may cause permanent nerve damage.

Prevention & Treatment Of Back & Spine Injuries From MMA

Protective gear

The best way to avoid these kinds of injuries is to take proper precautions. Protective gear such as head guards, mouth guards, and protective padding can help to minimize the effects of blows and may help prevent head trauma. Additionally, ensuring that athletes have a secure hold on their opponent can help to prevent strain and overstretching of muscles and ligaments.


It is also essential that MMA fighters always engage in a proper warm-up period before engaging in a match. This will help to minimize strain on the muscles, allowing them to move more freely, and avoid potential injuries.

Physical therapy

If an athlete does sustain a back or spine injury, physical therapy is usually the best option for treating it. Physical therapy helps to strengthen the affected area, reduce inflammation, improve mobility and reduce pain. Additionally, physical therapy can help to reduce the risk of further injury by improving balance and mobility.


In some cases, surgery may be necessary for treating a back or spine injury. This can be a risky and costly procedure, however, and should only be considered for severe cases. Surgery is often recommended to help relieve pressure on nerves or stabilize the spine.

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People Also Ask

What are the most common spine injuries from MMA?

The most common spine injuries from MMA include head trauma, sprains and strains, and herniated discs.

Can MMA cause permanent nerve damage?

Yes, prolonged head trauma or an untreated herniated disc can lead to permanent nerve damage.

What is the best way to prevent back and spine injuries in MMA?

The best way to prevent back and spine injuries in MMA is to use protective gear, engage in a proper warm-up period, and be mindful of proper body mechanics during matches.

Can physiotherapy help with MMA-related back and spine injuries?

Yes, physiotherapy can be a great tool for treating back and spine injuries related to MMA. Physiotherapy can help to strengthen the affected area, reduce inflammation, improve mobility and reduce pain.

What are the immediate symptoms of a spine or back injury in MMA?

Immediate symptoms of a spine or back injury in MMA may include pain, stiffness, tingling sensations, weakened grip or abnormal posture.

Final Words

Back and spine injuries are a serious concern for mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. However, by taking preventive measures, such as using protective gear, warming up before matches, and being mindful of proper body mechanics, athletes can significantly reduce their chances of sustaining an injury. If injuries do occur, however, physical therapy and in some cases, surgery, offer effective treatment options.