There is risk of injury, small or large, with any sport. While fencing is safe in theory, everyone serious about the sport will tell you a story about an injury sustained during his career, whether in training or in competition. Knowing a little bit about what fencing injuries are most common will help you to train smarter and incorporate some activities that will help you to physically recover between sessions.
Bruising is probably the #1 fencing injury and there really isn’t much you can do to prevent a bruise or two – other than getting faster on your feet to avoid being hit, of course. The type of bruise you sustain will depend on the weapon, but most bruises happen on the fingers, hands, wrists, and the front leg – usually on the side holding the sword.
It’s important to wear a glove, especially on your sword hand. Beginners may want to wear gloves on both hands because they are more likely to use the other hand to try to block until better trained. The only way to prevent bruising is to practice. Most bruises are small and need no treatment, but if you get a bad one you can ice it and try topical bruise remedies like Tiger Balm or Arnica Gel.
Fencer’s elbow is a common overuse injury similar to tennis elbow. This injury is more common among foil fencers because of the wrist movements. This is because the muscles that help move the wrist all connect back up into the elbow area, which is the area that tends to become inflamed with overuse.
You can prevent fencer’s elbow by making sure you aren’t gripping your sword too tightly, allowing your wrist to remain a bit more neutral. Icing after practice, even if you aren’t uncomfortable, will help to reduce inflammation and swelling. Talk to your coach about strengthening exercises as well. If you develop chronic pain, you will need to see a healthcare professional.
Recovery Between Sessions
There is a difference between dedication and self-harm. Everyone needs time to rest and recover between training sessions. Your legs, shoulders, and arms all take a physical beating and pushing yourself too hard can result in injury. Always communicate with your coach if you have any sort of injury – even if it’s just a blister or bothersome callus. You may need to shift your training and work on a different technique. If your elbow is bothering you, you may need to work on footwork instead.
We do our best to prevent fencing injuries, but they happen from time to time. Do your best to stay alert, make sure you are doing your warm-ups and stretches, and make sure you are cross-training between fencing sessions. Ask your coach if you have any questions or concerns about your training. They’re on the floor to help you!