BELOW THE BELT‎ Magazine Issue 34 Summer 2016: Prevention Paves The Road

Spend enough time in a boxing gym and war stories are heard. I’m not referring to how the battle was won or lost. I’m talking about the scars earned in training. Aches, pains, pulled muscles, torn ligaments, broken hands and shin splints all in the name of dedication.

Chasing the boxing dream means hours of sparring, bag and pad work. Add in the extra running, skipping, weight training, sprinting and it’s mind blowing. Countless hours spent strength and conditioning all in the name of building your brand in and out of the ring.

Training is the name of the game. Over training and injuries should not be. If pain medications, tiger balm, cold spray and a heating pad are your best friends you may be over training.

prevention paves the road

The key to effective training is PREVENTION. The only way to out work your opponent is to remain injury free. Long hours at work, school, kids and added stress can throw a wrench into training times. Arriving late is NOT the time to skip a solid warm up. It’s the first step connecting your mind and spirit to the present moment. It allows you to leave the day behind stepping into the present moment. Take a deep breath. Focus all your energy where it belongs…on boxing.

Warming up starts the flow of oxygen rich blood. It increases muscle temperature and in turn allowing a greater range of motion.

Set aside 30 minutes for your warm up. Stretching is a sure way to start but the type is important. Dynamic Stretching involves movements that are sport specific. This is the best way to go. Leave the weights alone. Put down the kettle bell! Take off the weighted vest! Running, sprints and hills should not be done in the warm up.

The exercises should be light and the focus should be on repetition. The movements compliment boxing.

  • Head rotation
  • Wrist circles
  • Arm circles
  • Torso rotations
  • Waist bends
  • Lunges with torso rotation
  • Moving in and out on the heavy bag
  • Jogging on the spot
  • Squats
  • Skipping
  • Shadow boxing

Dynamic stretching helps increase endurance. Improved flexibility will help prevent injuries. Coordination, balance and speed will all increase. As you warm up, visualize the work ahead. Mental preparation allows you the confidence to believe in you!

Lingering tightness? Go ahead and try Static Stretching or hold stretching. Each position should be held for a maximum of 10 seconds. No bouncing! Ballistic training is not going to work in your favor.

You are ready to train insane! Hours pass. Your coach is proud. Hard work equals extreme exhaustion. Its time to pack up.

This is not the time to shower! HOLD ON! I don’t care if the lights are off. I don’t care if the cleaning crew is mopping around you. Take time to cool down.

Respect the process and protect the body by gradually cooling down. Slowly bring the heart rate back to your resting heart rate. Spend 10-20 minutes shadow boxing and light skipping. You will thank me. This helps remove lactic acid from the blood and muscles. Simply put, lactic acid is what causes muscle pain. This is not your friend when you plan on running in the morning!

Conclude with Static Stretching. The holding phase allows you to increase your range of motion. Relax! Breathe! Hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Be careful stretching. No bouncing! Passive Stretching will work, too. Here the movements are completed with the help of an outside force such as a towel, yoga strap or a partner. Try to relax into the pose while being mindful of the amount of force used. Pulling a muscle will put you out of commission.

Stretching guidelines are for those free of injury. It is best to consult your doctor if you are suffering from muscular or teninous trauma, fractures, joint pain or infections.

Yoga is another fabulous way to increase flexibility, prevent injury and speed up muscle recovery in between training sessions. Studios offer free trial classes and dvd’s are an at home solution. NO excuses. Namaste!

Let’s talk Foam rollers! They are a fabulous tool for prevention. If you are scratching your head right now then run, don’t walk and GOOGLE! Purchase a portable size one and keep it close by at all times! Foam rollers help breakdown fibrous tissue. Blood flow and circulation will increase. Muscle pain and tightness will decrease. I promise!

Showered and refreshed! Hydration is the first order of business. Drinking pure water while training is a given. Most fighters will still be dehydrated by the end and restoring valuable electrolytes is essential. It’s easy to stop at a convenience store and load up but love yourself enough to skip commercial brands. Avoid all food dyes, chemicals and excess sugar.

Dr. Robyn Murphy, Toronto Naturopath, recommends making your own recovery drink by combining water, lemon, sea salt, baking soda, honey and lots of fresh mint!

Next step: High intensity training requires replenishing between 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates as soon as physical activity ends. (Bernardot, 2012).

Multiplying your weight in pounds by a value between (.3 and .7) gives you the number of carbs in grams. High intensity and long bouts of training require more carbs. Refueling properly will aid in recovery. Keep track. Trial and error will quickly help you find what works for YOU. Its worth it.


150 lb fighter x .4 = 60 grams carbs There are 4 calories in 1 carb Therefore 60 x 4 = 240 calories in carbohydrates.

Adding protein to recovery carbs post workout is no more effective for replacing muscle gylcogen than consuming calories of carbohydrates alone. (Zachweija, 2002). In other words, it’s ok to just eat carbohydrates after you train.

No fast food please! You didn’t train to ruin it with the 3 W’s. Say no to WHITE RICE, WHITE FLOUR and WHITE SUGAR. Even a chiseled body won’t pay off long term if it was built on processed foods.

Eating whole foods helps you replenish and store glycogen for energy. Choosing natural whole foods keeps your body alkaline. This is the ideal state.

Sodium, potassium and magnesium are key minerals that are lost sweating. They must be replaced. (Haas and Levin, 2006). Choosing healthy, clean unprocessed foods each meal aids in building and repairing muscle.

Lean cuts of protein, whole complex carbohydrates, fresh vegetables, fruits and good healthy fats will build a strong body inside and out. The key is keeping the body alkaline. The foods I chose focus on replenishing and restoring key nutrients lost in the ring!

HEAVY HITTING healthy healing food list:prevention_3

  • Bananas
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Cold pressed virgin coconut oil
  • Hemp hearts
  • Ground flax
  • Avocado
  • Raw nuts (brazil and almonds)
  • Cooked spinach
  • Lean beef and chicken (preferably grass fed/ free range)

Let’s move on. Branched Chained Amino Acids or BCAA’S are among the nine essential acids. They are beneficial during long bouts of exercise when energy demand is high. They also decrease soreness and reduce fatigue. Dr. Robyn Murphy recommends the following three BCAA’S in particular: leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA’s can be purchased in a variety of funky flavored powder forms mixing easily into pre and post workout water. Maganese, Vitamin C and Zinc are three supplements that should be mentioned as well.

Before resting for the night incorporate “contrast hydrotherapy”. I personally now use and encourage my clients to follow this awesome shower style! Switching the shower water between HOT and Freezing temperatures. Dr. Murphy points out the thirty seconds hot then 10 seconds cold or 3:1 ratio is key. Aim for 3 to 5 repetitions.

Sleeping is last thing on the list. This is the time to rest the mind and repair the body. Sleeping in a dark, quiet cool room for seven to nine hours nightly will have you ready to run bright and early! Quiet the mind and picture achieving your goals.

Night! Dream BIG!

Mercedes Gold is a personal trainer, nutritionist and currently studying at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada.


Special thanks to Dr. Robyn Murphy at Shey Wellness Clinic in Toronto, Canada. 416-483-7439


Bernardot, Dan, FACSM, RD, PHD. Advanced Sports Nutrition. Fine-tune your fluid intake for optimal training and performance. 2nd Edition. 2012. United States: Human Kinetics. (accessed November 16, 2014)

Brooks, S, Douglas. The Complete Book of Personal Training. 2004. Human Kinetics: USA

Haas, M, Elson, M.D. And Levin,                           Buck, RD. 2006. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. Ten Speed Press: New York.

Kovacs, M.S. “The argument against static stretching before sport and physical activity.” Athletic Therapy Today. 2006: 11(3) 24-25.

Zachweija, J.2002. Protein: Power or puffery? (online).Gatorade Sports Science Institute -Sports Science Center. Available: Protein_in_Sports_Drinks.cfm?pid=38 (July 2002)


Recommended Reading:

Marc Kovacs: Dynamic Stretching. The Revolutionary New Warm Up Method to Improve Power, Performance and Range of Motion (2009)





CSCS, Pd.D, Kovacs, Marc.” Dynamic Stretching: the Revolutionary New Warm-up Method, Performance and Range of Motion. Berkeley: Ullyses Press, 2010.