Getting knocked out, or at least put on the mat, is an eventuality in the sport of boxing. Whether it's during a sparring session or a match, sooner or later even the most iron-jawed fighter gets rocked. While it can be a scary experience, there are ways to manage your recovery to make sure that you heal completely and can get back to your boxing training as quickly as possible. When I need to get back on my feet after a knockout or knockdown, I find that having a clearly defined process helps me stay on course and not get anxious. Here, I will share my step-by-step process for recovering from a knockout.
What is the difference between a knockout and a knockdown?
Basically, a knockout is when you are knocked fully unconscious, while a knockdown is when you temporarily lose control of your senses and remain ‘shaky’ but can continue fighting. There are also times when you will be put on the mat without actually being hurt, such as when you are off-balance (this is often referred to as a flash knockdown).
4 Steps To Recover From a Knockdown or Knockout In Sparring
Step 1: See a Doctor
The first thing to do, no matter how you feel, is to get checked out by a physician. Concussions are no joke, and sometimes the symptoms hide until the injury is aggravated by further contact. A trained physician or a ringside EMT will be able to tell how severe any damage is.
Step 2: Take The Day Off
It doesn't matter how severe or mild the knockdown was, even if it was a flash knockdown, a knockdown where you weren’t hurt and just knocked off balance, there is no reason to risk it. If you’re knocked down in sparring, get out of the ring. I cannot tell you how many new fighters get hurt and try to be macho about it, not telling anyone. Then they end up having to take weeks off of training because they developed a serious concussion. Believe me, taking the day or a few days off will do wonders to help your mind and your body heal and recover so you can come back stronger, healthier, and ready.
Step 3: No Contact Training
After you follow Step 2 and take one or more complete days off (depending on the severity of your injury), you can start easing back into training. This does NOT mean it’s time to get in the ring and get punched in the face. No contact training is exactly what it sounds like: training that has little to no risk of aggravating what is probably a mostly but not completely healed concussion. When recovering, I tend to stick to the following exercises:
Shadowboxing: good for keeping yourself fluid and warding off the rust
Speed bag: good for maintaining shoulder conditioning and rhythm
Double-end bag: good for maintaining hand-eye coordination and punch control
Running/cycling/swimming: good for keeping up cardio and endurance
Step 4: Back To Sparring
After you are cleared by a medical professional, it is time to return to sparring. A lot of people are a little nervous and scared after their first knockdown, and that’s okay! If you’re feeling anxious, just ask to do some light sparring until you get your confidence back. Personally, I don’t do much hard sparring. I find that light sparring is better for honing my boxing technique. I only hard spar once a month to remember the pace of a real fight.
What if I get knocked down in a match?
Recovering from a knockdown mid-match is a completely different beast, and deserves its own article. Stay tuned for my step-by-step process for returning to the ring after a KO.
Keep Up The Fight
Even the strongest and fiercest boxers get knocked down during training. It’s all part of the learning process. Educating yourself on proper recovery is a key part of boxing training. As with any injury, you have to allow your body and mind time to rest and restore before jumping back, otherwise, you can risk more detrimental issues. Never doubt your inner fighter. Taking the necessary steps to ease back into your routine will ensure that you develop into a stronger and smarter competitor–at home or in the ring!
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