You’re warming up – jumping squats, burpies, sprints – you notice an ache in the middle of your knee… and keep going.
Round house kicks – you notice nothing at first – then an ache or maybe a twinge in your knee as you try to pivot on your bottom leg.
Ground fighting – when you posture up, something doesn’t feel right. Or with sparring – you aren’t quite quick enough and catch one on the outside of your knee. Or perhaps no problems during class, but several hours later or the next day, you notice a pain or ache when running down stairs.
What do you do? If you’re like most of us, you power through it.
But take a minute and ask yourself – “am I short changing myself?” Are you robbing yourself of your potential for power and speed? Even worse, are you setting yourself up for injury or causing micro-trauma which will build up over time and cause real problems in the future?
If you don’t take care of the problem, your body will adjust and compensate. Think that’s a good thing? Think again. As you start to move differently, it puts increased and uneven stresses throughout your body. Give it a little time and you’ll start to notice back pain and tightness the day after class, tightness, cramping or strain of your hamstrings, groin or calves, or foot and ankle pain. Over time this can also wear down the cartilage in your knee, causing catching, clicking, popping or the feeling of giving way.
There’s a flip side to this, taking care of the underlying problems, can offer you huge benefits in performance –increasing the height and speed of your kicks and using your legs to unlock the explosive power in your punches.
Especially if you experience any of the following, it’s time to step up and take care of your body. You owe it to yourself.
- Knee or leg pain during daily life (walking, climbing stairs, standing, rising from a chair, attempting to sleep, etc)
- Any catching, clicking, popping, grinding or a feeling of giving way in your knee
- A history of more than one hamstring, groin or calf strain
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE?
At Martial Arts & Sports Physical Therapy, we help improve your flexibility, muscle balance and other factors that affect performance. Our manual treatment and functional therapeutic exercises are geared to the specific needs of your body and demands of your martial art.
Physical Therapy and Martial Arts & Sports Physical Therapy includes:
- Comprehensive evaluation of your condition
- Analysis of your martial art techniques to minimize risk of injury
- Retraining and rebuilding exercises specific to your martial art
- Manual therapy: hands-on treatments to improve joint and tissue motion and function
- Tailored instruction on incorporating healthier posture and body mechanics into your daily life
- Ongoing communication with your martial arts instructor and physician
SNEAK PEAK: CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR KNEES ARE IN TROUBLE
Most injuries occur when the bones that make up the knee joint are not well aligned during functional and martial arts activities.
SELF TEST: How’s my alignment?
- Stand on one foot in front of a mirror.
- Slowly squat on one leg and watch your alignment. Look for the following things:
- Do your hips stay level and facing forward, or does one hip drop or rotate?
- Does your knee stay lined up with your ankle and your hip, or does your knee bend in (into a knock-kneed position)?
- Does your knee cap stay facing forward, pointing the same direction as your toes,
or does it slide or point to the middle or out to the side?
- Do you have any pain during the squat?
- Are you able to control the squat in a nice, smooth motion?
If you are unable to complete a squat on one leg keeping good alignment, you are putting excessive stress on your knee joint. This increases your risk of an acute injury and pre-disposes you for chronic injury.
WHAT CAN I DO TO IMPROVE MY PERFORMANCE AND ALIGNMENT AND DECREASE MY CHANCE OF INJURY?
See a Physical Therapist who specializes in martial arts treatment for a thorough evaluation of your condition, individualized program and direct manual treatment to correct problems in your joints and soft tissues.