Although archery is a relatively safe sport, if done improperly it can be dangerous and result in serious injury. The most common archery injuries tend to be in the arm or shoulder, but they can usually be prevented by using the correct technique and ensuring adequate recovery. Let’s look at the 7 most common archery injuries and how you can prevent them.
1. Rotator cuff injuries
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons around the shoulder joint. As such, it’s no surprise this area is prone to injury when practising archery.
When you draw your bow consistently, you put pressure on the muscles and strain them. Over time, you might experience a dull aching pain in the shoulder and your range of motion may be restricted.
If you experience pain when drawing back your bow, take a break and let the muscles relax to prevent injury. Some archery stances lend themselves more to rotator cuff injuries, so choose a comfortable stance using the proper bow-drawing technique. Make sure you also use your back muscles to pull your arm back, to lessen the pressure on your shoulder.
You can regularly exercise your rotator cuffs to make the muscles stronger and prevent injury. This YouTube video demonstrates a workout to exercise these muscles using just a stretch-band that you might already have at home.
As an archer, you’ve likely experienced “archer’s elbow”. If not, you’ll definitely want to keep it that way. It refers to tendonitis in the elbow, which is when your tendon (the connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone) becomes inflamed. For archers, tendonitis is most common in the elbows, but also occurs in the shoulders and wrists.
When you bring your bow to a full draw, for example, it puts repetitive or excessive strain on the tendon and can be extremely painful.
If you can’t maintain correct form when drawing your bow, you might need to drop the draw weight as it’s likely too heavy. It’s also important to strengthen the muscles you’re using, such as the shoulder and scapular muscles, so your tendon isn’t compensating for them. Of course, it’s important to practise your archery skills, but you shouldn’t neglect the all-important gym exercises that prevent these archery injuries.
3. String slap
String slap happens when you release the bow string and it slaps your lower arm. It can be surprisingly painful, and you’ll probably experience bruising or tenderness in this area if it happens to you.
The easiest and best way to prevent string slap injuries is to wear an armguard to protect your lower arm. They’re cheap to buy and handy if you’re just starting out. To avoid the string slapping your arm, ensure you have the correct posture and form, as well as the appropriate draw weight.
4. Chest bruising
Another string slap injury occurs when the bowstring slaps against the chest during shooting. It’s nothing to worry about, but it could cause significant pain and bruising, which you want to avoid where possible.
The quickest way to prevent chest bruising is to invest in a chest guard to stop the string hitting your chest and prevent your clothes from getting in the way. If you don’t want to buy a chest guard, you should wear tight-fitting clothing that won’t catch on the string. If you have a large chest, you may want to wear a supportive bra. Correct stance and technique are also, once again, very important.
5. Muscle strain injuries
There is such a thing as overtraining, especially in a sport that involves so many repetitive movements. When you’re working certain muscles too hard, it’s only a matter of time before you experience a muscle strain injury.
In archery, these repetitive muscle strains normally occur in the arms, wrists, hands, shoulders and neck. They’ll feel achy and stiff and you may experience cramping in those areas.
If you’re a keen archer, you might not want to hear that rest is the best way to prevent muscle strain injuries – but it is. You should take regularly breaks to give your muscles the chance to relax. Luckily, there are ways to improve your archery technique without physical practice. In fact, several of the best archers in the world highlight the importance of mental training. Why not try these ideas to exercise your brain and improve your archery whilst you’re away from the range?
If your fingers are on the bowstring for too long when it’s released, it can rub them, and this can cause blisters to form. This usually happens when you hook the bowstring too much or your fingers are in the wrong position.
To avoid friction and painful finger blisters, put your fingers on the string correctly and make sure you maintain the correct hand position. If your fingers are still blistered and painful, you might want to consider wearing archery gloves when you practise.
7. Hand cuts or punctures
Unlike the above injuries, this isn’t caused by the movements involved in archery. Instead, it’s caused by negligence when handling archery equipment. Archery arrows are extremely sharp, so it’s essential to handle them with care. If not, you risk cutting yourself or sustaining a puncture wound.
First, establish how best to handle your arrows safely to avoid injury. You can also buy an arrow quiver to cover your arrow points and prevent injury. Alternatively, when using broadhead arrows, make sure to invest in a broadhead wench to ensure the sharp blades are covered.
Unfortunately, even by taking these precautions, accidents can and do happen. That’s why you need specialist archery insurance. At Ripe Shooting, we provide Personal Accident cover for archers, to protect you if you suffer an injury while practising. Find out more about our cover by clicking the link above, or get a quote in minutes today.