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Boxing provides cardiovascular exercise. When someone doesn't have a boxing bag or pads, or if they're boxing in VR, they will often 'air punch' (punch the air) instead of punching a bag/pad.

Unfortunately, 'air punching' has a high risk of elbow over-extension (possibly other injuries too). For example:

my elbow tends to overextend and I feel some pain for a couple days after about 30 minutes

Is there any technique, tools, or other solutions that someone can use to air punch without an increased risk of over extension or injury?

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  • I'm not sure if this would work or provide more risk, but I assume an elastic band wrapped around the back from one arm to the other would lessen the risk to the elbow. Feb 21 at 18:16

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Classes like Les Mills BodyCombat consist almost of air punches and air kicks only - for 60 minutes! It is a world wide concept for cardio and burning fat, which has been running for more than 20 years. I will call it a very well tested entry level concept, and people do not get injured :) (Disclaimer: My only relation to the concept is attending classes.)

This means air punches can be considered safe, if you do things right.

To avoid injuries remember to:

Always do a proper warmup of your joints as well as doing exercises to create heat in your body.

Listen to your body. If any movement or exercise hurts or just do not feels right, then it is most likely not the right movement for you.

Do not increase intensity, range of motion or exercise time too fast. Less than 10 percent from week to week, and do not increase more than one parameter within a week. If you e.g. increase intensity then keep (or decrease) range of motion and exercise time for at least a week.

Get familiar with the technic. Attend classes or watch videos and start with simple punches and combinations. You mention "elbow over-extension". General spoken, you are not supposed to fully extend your elbow joints in air punches. (For an example watch the first part of this video). If you are doing a video exercise, and you experience that you can not keep elbow flexion in the end of the movement, then the intensity (speed) or complexity of the video is far too high for your level. If you find it difficult to keep a flexion in your elbow joints then start practicing punches like uppercuts and hooks where you should keep your elbow bent.

From Wiki:

A hook is a punch in boxing.1 It is performed by turning the core muscles and back, thereby swinging the arm, which is bent at an angle near or at 90 degrees, in a horizontal arc into the opponent

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