What Causes the Intense Pain from a 'Liver Strike' in Combat Sports?

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  • Thread starter Whazupp
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In summary, a liver strike is a fight-ending punch or kick aimed at the area where the liver is located. It causes excruciating pain and can result in the fighter falling to the ground in a fetal position. The pain is described as a burning sensation and loss of breath. There does not seem to be any permanent damage, but it is possible that damage to the liver, ribs, or surrounding nerves, arteries, and veins could occur. It is advised not to attempt this strike unless it is necessary for self-defense.
  • #1
In combat sports there is a fight-ending strike (punch or kick) called the liver strike (or liver shot / liver kick). Basically it's a punch (or kick) aimed below the right pectoral muscle into the area where the liver is located. When it hits, the fighter experiences excruciating pain, and usually falls to the floor into a fetal position. The pain is described as a debilitating burning sensation, accompanied by a complete loss of breath. There does not seem to be any permanent damage, as the fighters are usually able to stand back up within minutes.

What is the physiological cause for the intense pain? Does it have something to do with the vagus nerve plexus?

Due to my low postcount i can't post URL links to fights with liver strikes. But you can see a couple on Youtube by looking for "Filipovic vs Magomedov" or "Gono vs. Salaverry".
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  • #2
First, do not assume there is no permanent damage (standing up doesn't mean no damage). A blow to the area of the liver certainly can cause liver damage (even improperly performed CPR can damage the liver, so certainly a punch or kick to that region could). From the location you're describing, it's not quite clear, actually, if they'd be kicking the location of the liver or the base of the lungs (it's very near the boundary of both. It could be damage to the ribs or blow near the lungs that leaves them out of breath. Also, along with the innervation along the ribs (subcostal nerves), the hepatic branch of the vagus nerve, and plenty of unnamed nerve branches, anyone thinking of this should also be aware that there are large arteries and veins in that area...damage any of those and one could bleed out rather quickly. In other words, do not try this at home, and indeed, do not do it unless you truly are fighting for your life.
  • #3

I would first like to clarify that the term "liver strike" is a colloquial term used in combat sports and does not necessarily refer to a specific anatomical target in the liver. In general, any punch or kick to the abdominal region can cause pain and discomfort, and the term "liver strike" is often used to describe a punch or kick that lands in the area where the liver is located.

That being said, the intense pain experienced by a fighter after a "liver strike" can be attributed to several physiological factors. The liver is a vital organ responsible for many important functions in the body, including filtering toxins from the blood and producing bile to aid in digestion. It is also a highly innervated organ, meaning it is rich in nerve endings that transmit signals of pain to the brain.

When a punch or kick lands in the area where the liver is located, it can cause trauma to the liver itself, as well as the surrounding tissues and organs. This trauma triggers a cascade of physiological responses, including the release of inflammatory molecules and activation of pain receptors in the liver and surrounding tissues. This results in the intense burning sensation and loss of breath described by fighters after a "liver strike".

Additionally, the vagus nerve plexus, a network of nerves that runs through the abdominal region, may also play a role in the intense pain experienced after a "liver strike". This nerve plexus is connected to the liver and can transmit pain signals to the brain, contributing to the overall sensation of pain.

It should also be noted that the intensity of the pain experienced after a "liver strike" may vary depending on the force and accuracy of the strike, as well as the individual's pain tolerance. While there may not be any permanent damage to the liver itself, the trauma caused by a "liver strike" can still have a significant impact on a fighter's ability to continue the match.

In conclusion, the intense pain experienced after a "liver strike" is a result of trauma to the liver and surrounding tissues, as well as activation of pain receptors and the vagus nerve plexus. While the term may be used in combat sports, it is important to note that any punch or kick to the abdominal region can cause similar levels of pain and discomfort.

1. What is a "liver strike"?

A "liver strike" is a type of punch or strike that is aimed at the liver, which is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. It is a popular technique in combat sports, as it can cause significant pain and temporary paralysis of the opponent.

2. How does a "liver strike" affect the body?

A "liver strike" can cause a sudden and intense pain in the abdomen, as well as nausea and difficulty breathing. This is due to the impact on the liver, which is a vital organ responsible for filtering and detoxifying blood.

3. Is a "liver strike" dangerous?

Yes, a "liver strike" can be dangerous, especially if it is delivered with enough force. In severe cases, it can cause internal bleeding and damage to the liver, which can be life-threatening.

4. Are there any long-term effects of a "liver strike"?

In most cases, a "liver strike" does not cause any long-term effects. However, repeated strikes to the liver can lead to scarring and permanent damage to the organ, which can affect its ability to function properly.

5. How can one protect themselves from a "liver strike"?

The best way to protect oneself from a "liver strike" is to keep the abdominal area well-conditioned and to use proper defensive techniques to avoid getting hit. Wearing protective gear, such as a chest guard, can also help prevent serious damage from a "liver strike".

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