Martial Arts with a Stoma – Don’t Let an Ostomy Stop Your Karate Chop
Cheesy headline aside, practitioners of martial arts take their craft very seriously. Whether casual or competitive, it becomes an important part of one’s lifestyle. If you have recently received a stoma (or are about to) and you practice martial arts, you’re likely very concerned about your ability to continue to do so.
While an ostomy does not have much of an impact on most sports, it most certainly can for high-impact sports. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your regime of Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, Taekwondo, or Kung fu. That being said, adjustments need to be made.
What You Need to Know About Practicing Martial Arts when Living with an Ostomy
Strengthen Your Core
Waiting to receive clearance from your doctor after the appropriate post-procedure recovery period is the most important part of your return to the dōjō. Given the physicality, you will want to wait for about six months. However, you can hit the gym for basic aerobic, calisthenic, and weight training sooner. And you should. Rebuilding your core is absolutely essential for getting back into rhythm and form. Follow these fitness tips for ostomates, which includes an important section about abdominal core exercises.
What to Avoid
You can go through the individual motions of your martial arts regime without concern, once your fitness level has returned. But when it comes to light-contact sparring you will need to have a very intense discussion with your sparring partner/s. For starters, only work with someone you trust. This will likely be your instructor who will exercise more caution and control than other intermediates in your gym. They will need to avoid hitting you anywhere near your stoma. Force contact on you needs to be relegated to legs, hips, and the upper torso. The front abdominals, where your stoma is located, are off-limits in the beginning. You also need to avoid the friction that can come from grappling around your stoma, which can aggravate it without proper protection in place.
Will you ever be able to take any form of contact where you stoma is located? Light to medium-impact contact (and sometimes high-impact) is certainly viable. But this comes down to the right equipment. Keep reading.
What to Wear
For any level of fighting style contact, a stoma guard is an absolute necessity. It needs to be secured in place. An ostomy support belt becomes your black belt when practicing martial arts with an ostomy and will keep your stoma guard from moving during a sparring session. You won’t know the appropriate adjustments until you test it out. Set up a sparring session (alway empty your pouch in advance) with your partner that will allow you to find this “comfort zone”. Over time, you will know exactly how to fasten and position your stoma guard so that it is not obtrusive. It will take some getting used to, but you will get used to it. And don’t worry about your friendly-but-competitive opponent taking advantage of your stoma. Hitting your stoma guard isn’t exactly an advantage for them when they feel the brunt on their fists and feet.
Ostomy Martial Arts Community
Do some research to find out if there are other ostomates in your area who are also interested in martial arts. There are more online forums (Reddit included) that you can imagine with posts dedicated to this exact topic. When getting back into things, it can help working out and sparring with others who understand what you’re going through. If you live in a big city, you may have success in organizing small competitions and exhibition fights between ostomates. The support system is out there, you just have to look.