Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Purple Knuckles Club

If you practice the Filipino Martial Arts for any length of time, you know that you are going to get hit on the hands.

Just a little bit.
 Image found here.

This happens for reasons having to do with mistakes on your part, or mistakes made by other people.

Or sometimes, it's just the way it goes.

Luckily, rattan is the kind of material that is highly unlikely to break something (it's one of the reasons we train with it) and usually, injuries are bruises and rarely, small cuts.

I've noticed these days that most of the injuries I get are working with people new to the art, or working with people I don't know well (due to adjusting range because I'm one of the smaller people in the room - so they end up hitting ME versus hitting my stick), or it just being the nature of the drill (especially with disarms).

You can get injured anywhere on the hands, of course but here's a tip for the most common injury I get - first and second knuckle strikes (aka "Purple Knuckles").

First knuckle injuries are relatively rare for me.  I've almost always gotten them in a blocking drill where I'm feeding someone and they block my hand rather than my stick.  I've had it happen with just one knuckle getting hit, to up to all four fingers getting hit.

Second knuckle injuries are the most common ones I get, especially on the index and middle fingers. This happens for the same reasons as first knuckle injuries, but I also get them in any kind of speed drill where targeting is important.  It's REALLY easy to get a second knuckle injury when your partner is doing sinawali or other flow drill, and is aiming too high (above the head) and you're aiming properly (the head) - they hit you on the index knuckle. 

First and second knuckle injuries are painful and very common but easy to cope with.

Both of these knuckle injuries can swell up and turn blue or purple (hence "the Purple Knuckles Club").  I've had one of these injuries take several days to heal, even with icing - before I knew how to treat it.

But you can stop a purple knuckle in a really simple way.

Have a friend grip the injured knuckle in their thumb and forefinger, with their thumb on top of the knuckle, and apply pressure (aka "crush the knuckle").


By applying pressure to the knuckle, your friend is basically stopping the bleeding inside of the knuckle that will cause the stiffening and swelling that will hurt for several days, and turn the knuckle blue or purple (with blood).  Have your friend apply pressure applied for three to five minutes.

You will notice that your knuckle will bruise up a little but not a lot, and there should be little to no swelling - and you can get right back to training again.

You might end up with a bruise on the finger, but it won't be too stiff or painful the next day and it shouldn't stop any training.

You can also apply ice to help with swelling later, but I have found that the crushing the knuckle method works best than ice by itself.

So, if you find yourself joining "The Purple Knuckles Club" - that's how you cope with it.  Hope that helps!

Do you have any tips to coping with hand injuries?  I'd love to know!