This whole COVID thing really sucks. There is no question about that. In a sport where the objective is to make as much contact with your opponent as possible, there are a lot of challenges for training and competing. Here are some practical COVID 19 precautions for MMA fighters.
- Recognize the signs
- Supplements for your immune system
- Receive adequate sleep
- Stop stressing out
- Small group training
Recognizing the signs of COVID 19
It is really hard to tell the difference between a cold, allergies, overtraining, and COVID 19. It is important to listen to the small changes in your recovery. Many of these symptoms may be very mild and you may not even think that you need to stop training, because under normal circumstances you would push through.
“I had no idea I had it until my test results came back on Friday morning before the fight. The symptoms didn’t hit until later that evening and lasted until Monday morning. I was mostly the chills, muscle aches, and headaches,” said UFC Heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes. “I had no nausea or respiratory issues, The first time I got it back in January it was much worse. That time, I was sick for about seven days and that involved a lot more coughing and nausea. I fought two weeks later against JDS with no lasting effects.”
Symptoms of COVID 19 that you shouldn’t ignore
- Headache that persists
- Body aches not associated with training
- Difficulty breathing (cardio seems more difficult than normal)
- Cough or sore throat that doesn’t go away with allergy meds
- Intermittent fatigue
“I was having body aches, nothing out of the usual with a packed week of training. It wasn’t until I almost passed out during a workout that I realized it might be something else,” said Invicta FC Flyweight Fighter, Claire Guthrie. “My case of the virus was mild, but I still had it.’
Strengthening the Immune System
There are a lot of ways that you can strengthen your immune systems and we suggest you try more than one of these practical COVID 19 precautions for MMA fighters.
Supplements for your immune system
In general, as long as you are eating healthy, you should not need to supplement with additional vitamins. In the current landscape; better safe than sorry.
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C
Receive adequate sleep
Sleeping seems like an easy thing to do, but for many, sleeping is not as easy as it sounds. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins are needed in abundance when the body has an infection, inflammation or is under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective cytokines, leaving you more vulnerable than if you were well-rested. Yes, sleeping is a practical COVID 19 precaution for MMA fighters. There could certainly be worse things.
Some natural ways to achieve better sleep include:
- Turning off all electronics
- Do not consume caffeine or alcohol 6 hours before bed
- Try natural CBD for sleep
- Make sure your sleeping space is dark
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Use melatonin supplements occasionally
“Trying to live a normal everyday life during COVD is extremely stressful because even if you are healthy you could still have contracted it without even knowing and accidently pass it around,” said BRAVE FC Flyweight, Jose “Shorty” Torres. “Trying to stay healthy and stress free is already difficult enough, but COVID makes it that much harder. It has kept me out of fights because of travel restrictions between countries, but I am staying active. COVID won’t stop me from doing what I need to do to get better.”
Stop stressing out
You can actually worry yourself sick, and there is plenty to worry about. Dealing with the possibility of getting COVID 19 and losing a paycheck or spreading it to a teammate who will lose a paycheck is only a small part of the things you might be stressing about in 2020.
Your immune system consists of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream. These cells move in and out of organs and tissues, protecting the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, mutated cells, and viruses like COVID.
Some ways to naturally reduce stress:
- Go outside during the day and get some sun. Even in the winter.
- Find something to laugh about.
- Get exercise every day. Typically this one isn’t a problem for MMA fighters.
- Try CBD oil with passionflower. Both are holistic calming supplements.
- Meditation. You knew it was going to be on the list. Here it is.
- Drink tea. It is delicious and may chill you out.
- Talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. A teammate or coach could help.
Small group training for MMA
There is something powerful about having a huge group of highly skilled fighters all in one place with the same objective. In the current landscape that may not be reasonable. Each team has different expectations and protocols for their competitors. Most gyms are subject to state-mandated government restrictions that require fewer people and no contact. The no contact part is out of the question for MMA. You can’t work on footwork and shadowboxing every day and expect to be successful.
Some teams are requiring fighters and students to be in small training pods. The people in each pod have a similar mindset about exposing themselves and by having smaller groups, the potential for a large scale virus spread is minimized.
Of course, it is crucial to practice good hygiene and clean the training space before and after use.
Why are Practical COVID 19 Precautions for MMA Fighters Important?
No one wants to the be the one responsible for spreading the virus to their training partners. If a fighter tests positive leading into a fight, the fight is generally re-scheduled. Though most people are only contagious for a few days, the length of time that a person could continue to test positive is different for everyone and without a negative test, you don’t fight and you also don’t corner a fighter.
This can also have financial impacts for coaches who rely on in-person training and gym owners trying to keep the doors open. There is a fine balance between trying to control the uncontrollable and being responsible. Every fighter falls somewhere a long the spectrum.
Bryanna “Pink Ranger” Fissori is a professional female fighter based in Denver, Colorado. Fissori has been working as a professional journalist for well over a decade in a number of industries as a general reporter and legal analyst. Along with a mean left hook, she also has a law degree. Fissori trains out of Elevation Fight Team and has competed for top-level promotions such as Bellator MMA and PANCRASE MMA in bantam and featherweight divisions.