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MMA Pro fighter guide to injury prevention | Recovery tips

MMA Pro fighter guide to injury prevention | Recovery tips

MMA fighter octagon talking coach

Injury prevention, post workout tips, fixing muscle imbalances and more

MMA Pro fighter Cory Hendricks shares his tips and advice on how to make sure you’re getting the recovery you need. Why is recovery so important? You need optimal recovery to be able to keep going with your training, have a long athletic career and to be able to keep going with your workouts and fitness goals, avoid injury and overtraining.

With years of experience as a professional mixed martial artist, he was on The Ultimate Fighter, fought in the UFC and currently fights for ACA in Russia, he has lots of expertise to share.



MMA fighter Cory in Octagon talking coachMMA fighter Cory in Octagon talking coach

How to avoid overtraining by maximizing these MMA post workout and lifestyle tips

MMA fighter Cory Hendricks share in the podcast:

  • Stretching

  • Hydration

  • Sleep

  • Massage

  • Postural and Muscular Balance

  • Plus lots more

A little back story about Pro MMA Fighter Cory Hendricks

I met Cory a few years back and he’s even coached me through a little MMA sparring session. If you’re in or visiting Vegas, definitely check out training with him for something challenging and that’ll keep you on your toes, quite literally!



Pro MMA fighter in octagon training sparring Eve DawesPro MMA fighter in octagon training sparring Eve Dawes

Cory has been in sports and fitness for most of his life. He got into fighting as he felt a need to fill a void created from being a lifelong athlete: he played soccer and basketball all through school, played a couple years of football as well, and then after high school he went and played basketball at Community College.

Once he was done with that, he didn’t know what he wanted to do and wasn’t really sure about going to college. 

“So that was the end of my basketball career, which had taken up 2 or 3 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, so it left me with a giant void in my life, that I’ve never had. I was working out at the gym and I met some people who were fighters in training and I needed something to fill my time with and my competitive urges so I started training with them and just loved it.” 

I feel a lot of athletes can relate to this…

When sports, athletics or dancing has been your entire life, what do you next?

When you stop competing at a professional level in 1 sport or another, you reach this junction and need something to channel your energy, mindset, and competitive nature. 

For Cory it was MMA fighting, for me, after dancing it was professional bodybuilding and then business, pageants and coaching; ways to channel my energy, have fitness goals, still be competitive and to help others be competitive.

In fighting, you always have to be on top of your game, there’s a winner and a loser! You have to take care of your body to get it to do the things you want it to do and do them for a long time. 

“It’s basically a lifestyle really! It’s not really something you can just do here and there, you have to live your life because in a way that benefits your body because everything involves your body. What you put into it, what you put it through, all of those things have an impact.”



Ultimate Fighter UFC Team Claudia groupUltimate Fighter UFC Team Claudia group


Tips for recovery, minimizing DOMS and flexibility

  1. Foam roll and stretching

Dynamic and static both have a time and place and are sports specific.

When you’re training for a specific sport you’re stretching in a functional way for that specific sport. 

For example:

Bodybuilders and those weight training, tend to avoid static stretches before lifting as it lengthens the muscle fibers making them less strong to lift. However, as a dancer, we would always do both static and dynamic stretching to ensure we had full range of motion before class and performances. 

When you’re performing anything at a high level, you get to know your body and what it responds best to. Outside of the realm of professional athletes, as a general rule of thumb, stick to dynamic warmups pre workout and static stretches after.

This is a great article that dives more into the science of when and why to do dynamic and static stretches as well as some examples.

This is a great article to start with if you’re wanting to stretch at home. Whether it’s post-workout or just before bed. Full Body Stretching Routine For Flexibility, Posture and Wellness (20 minutes). These exercises will help with total body flexibility.

Are you overtrained or under recovered?

Did you actually overtrain or did you just not get the recovery you needed for the training you did? There is a difference and you have to find the balance. 

If you break down your muscles and never let them build back up, it’s always going to keep breaking down. You have to listen to your body, to know when and how hard to push it, but to not push it so far that you can’t come back better from the exercise that you’ve done.

Training Splits

In most sports there’s training splits to not overtrain. When I was bodybuilding, it was a 5 day spilt, training a different body part each day, so that they all had time to repair in between workouts and I could come back stronger.

In MMA it’s more complicated as there’s a wide variety of things to cover besides muscle groups, there’s all of the different types of fighting skills on top of the conditioning. Cory typically does strength and conditioning training 2-3 times a week.

How to promote and optimize your recovery

There’s lots of factors that come into play but one of the most important is sleep. 

How much you need is different for everyone. Most of us know 7-9 hours is ideal and that’s what the Sleep Foundation recommends but not all of us always get it. Being tired is often a reason people get injured, as you’re not concentrating.

Cory prefers 8-8.5 hours of sleep, although he can function on less, and more!  

Sleep tips and recommendations for getting a better nights sleep

  • Stick to a sleep schedule 7 days a weekPractice a relaxing bedtime ritual e.g. meditation, herbal tea, reading.

  • Exercise daily-even on your recovery day something like stretching or a light walk.

  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.

  • Sleep on a comfortable and clean mattress and pillow(s).

  • Keep check of your alcohol and caffeine intake and make sure it’s not disrupting your sleep.

  • Turn off electronics before bed and preferably keep them out of your bedroom.

Nutrition and hydration for recovery and overall health

What you put into your body is what you get out of it. Water and by that, we mean water, not Gatorade or soda, is the best way to stay hydrated. 

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The more you sweat, the more you’re going to need to drink up. If you’re not sure, use the water calculator as it’s different for each person, depending on your weight, gender, and activity level.

Fact Check : Percentage of water the body’s made up of

In the podcast I say the body’s made up of about 70% water. It’s actually:

“60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.”

 As well as the pinch of salt in water I mention on the podcast instead of gatorade or sports drinks you can also add a pinch of salt and lemon juice to plain water, which can help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Which is obviously a lot more natural and a lot lower in sugar than sports beverages.

How massage therapy helps with recovery

Cory does massages as often as possible and would do more if cost wasn’t an issue. He goes once a fortnight but would love to do it daily as he believes a good massage therapist can find things you don’t even realize are wrong or be able to correct things before they can have an impact on you. 

Prevention rather than cure.

Why posture and correcting muscle imbalances is important for injury prevention and peak performance

Cory gets a lot of work done on his neck and for his posture. In MMA fighting you’re hunched forward to protect yourself. When you spend so much time in that position and are also throwing punches, you’re using all of the muscles on the front of the body.

This creates a lot of muscle imbalances in the body that if not addressed can lead to injury. So he works to loosen the muscles on the front of the body with massage and stretching and then uses band work to strengthen his back and retractor muscles.

We could go into posture and creating muscle balance for hours but I actually covered that in a previous blog post. Where the best doctors and professionals from around the World came together to give masterclasses on the top, easy ways to correct your posture and the types of things you can be doing to help your body: How To Improve Your Posture Tips From The Experts.

Traction and decompression

Another big part of Cory’s MMA workout recovery program and lifestyle. It wasn’t until he had a neck injury that he learned about traction, which is what got his neck healthy and got him going again.

He went from not being able to stand up for more than 5 minutes to be completely fine as long as he’s careful and stays on top of it. Traction can help prevent the discs from getting compressed overtime. By decompressing them, we can help fight the natural compression that happens to our spine.

This is the traction device that Cory uses at home daily. Don’t laugh when you see it! It looks a little crazy but apparently works! Neckpro Ii Cervical Traction Device $62.99 Amazon Prime. I’ve got myself one as I’ve been having neck issues, probably because I’m a stomach sleeper.

In regards to using the traction device at home, I spoke with my chiropractor and he suggested no more than 1 minute a day and to not use too much force! It might feel good but don’t force it.

More Post Workout Recovery Tips

As well as these fitness and lifestyle tips, there are other things you can do to help prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) so you can keep training and prevent fatigue.

I’ve picked up lots of useful insights over the last 20 years of performing, competing and bodybuilding for when days and shows off aren’t an option.

8 Best Post Workout Recovery Tips For Faster Recovery

Making these part of your lifestyle will help with your post workout recovery, which will improve your training and reduce the amount of time you need between workouts so you can keep going with your workouts and help minimize the risk of injury.

Connect with Pro MMA Fighter Cory Hendricks

Instagram: @coryhmma

MMA Fight Stats

PS: Cory still needs a fighting nickname? Drop your suggestions in the comments below.

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