Art for beginners with bad knees

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SammyB57

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What are good arts for people with bad knees/ankles? I've just had a lot of wear and tear from high school football and want something that will make me strong and supple.... not weak and arthritic.
 

Darksoul

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-Well, I think a good Tai Chi class would be the place to start. The workout strengthens the legs, knees, ankles, ligaments, tendons in a rebuilding kind of way. Most of the different styles of Tai Chi out there would probably be workable for someone in your condition. Granted, as others have mentioned here, do what you can to find a school that also teaches the martial application of Tai Chi, not just the health side of it. Once your legs are stronger, you may consider looking at another art. I certainly wouldn't jump right into Tae Kwon Do class, or Praying Mantis with bad legs. Build yourself back up first, then go after whatever peaks your interest. Then again, you may decide Tai Chi is the one. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any class. Pop over to the Tai Chi section, there are members there who are more qualified than I to answer your questions about Tai Chi.


A---)
 

calmone

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I think any art would be fine. Just be up front with your instructor on your condition. I have had 5 knee operations and just by going and doing up to my abilities i have strengthened my legs and knees. I cant do a lot of extended kicks, but I have gradually increased since I began 2 1/2 years ago. My flexibility has also increased.
 

TigerWoman

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Tai Chi is good because it has no jumping. Even in Taekwondo, there is no twisting or jumping in the first year and then it is gradual. But there is hopping in yellow belt. Most of what you need is knee/quad exercises to strengthen and ankle exercise which get worked really well doing forms or using weights. If you have really weak ankles, wear a brace at first--better safe than sorry. I have really bad knees, take glucosamine sulfate, and msm which helps build cartilage-do a "search" see top blue bar and put that word in --there's been tons written on it. My knees were due to 20 yrs. of running and TKD jumping too. Hope you find an art you can enjoy! TW
 

MJS

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TigerWoman said:
. My knees were due to 20 yrs. of running

Isn't that amazing. Something that is supposed to be good for you, in the long run..no pun intended... :ultracool can cause problems later on in life.

Mike
 

TigerWoman

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MJS said:
Isn't that amazing. Something that is supposed to be good for you, in the long run..no pun intended... :ultracool can cause problems later on in life.

Mike

Wear and tear on the cartilage = close to none left! TW
 

Feisty Mouse

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Hmm. I have had a knee issue since high school - for me it was basketball and crew that weakened the joint.

The arts I have been most successful with are the ones that: 1) have a good instructor who is aware of your injury and makes sure you don't do something that will damage the joint more, 2) no leaping about, and 3) no throwing.

#1 is the most important - I managed to wrench my knee during a Tai Chi class (elsewhere - not where I learn now), because a, I was an idiot, and b, the instruction was minimal to nonexistent.

Right now I take Tai Chi, Kali, and JKD, and they all are fine for my knee.
 
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Vadim

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Hi Sammy! I think that you can do any martial art that you want to as long as you work within your limitation. Definitely let your instructor know about your knee and ankle condition so that the drills that you do can be modified to benifit you and make your sorrounding muscle groups stronger to better support your knees and ankles. Choose a martial art that you would enjoy doing and go from there. Best of luck in your search.

-Vadim
 

mj_lover

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yup, most ma's would be ok, if you discussed it with the instructor, i would try and stay way from the grappling arts (for now) as they tend to be fairly hard on the body.
good luck
 
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Shidan

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calmone said:
I think any art would be fine. Just be up front with your instructor on your condition. I have had 5 knee operations and just by going and doing up to my abilities i have strengthened my legs and knees. I cant do a lot of extended kicks, but I have gradually increased since I began 2 1/2 years ago. My flexibility has also increased.
I agree that any art should be fine. I would steer clear of TKD Sporting schools although a good sensei/instructor can design a program that meets your needs. If you sign=up at a school that specialized in SD - that is exactly what you should be learning regardless of your physical state.

Shop around the schools in your area. I've trained people in wheel chairs, missing an arm/leg and ones who have had hip or knee replacements. You should be able to protect yourself in any condition. Granted it, a kata will not look the same or a grab will be a little different, but a good school will work with you.
 
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auxprix

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steer clear of the judos, jujutsus, and aikidos too. the first two wear on the knees bigtime. I also knew someone who took aikido with a prior knee condition and ended up bed ridden in a Japanese hospital for 2 weeks after emergency knee surgery.

-aux
 

Cruentus

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I am a little biased on this, but you might want to consider weapons based systems, like Filipino arts, Modern Arnis, Western arts, Knife arts, etc.

Most weapons arts will favor hand-eye-weapon coordination and movement rather than dynamic lower body movement that could further damage the knees. For someone with a knee problem, this may be an effective route to go for self-defense as well.

That said, most systems can be modified to suit any impairment...

Paul
 

Seig

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Just about everyone has given good advice. 10 years ago, I had my right knee reconstructed. The surgeon who rebuilt my knee is the same one professional baseball players use. He told me that my knee was so bad that another repair would be out of the question, either take care of it, or it would need to be replaced next time. The issue with knees is not so much the art, but the teacher. If they do not teach proper mechanics, you will damage your knees. Talk to a prospective teacher, explain your situation. Any knowledgeable teacher will take joint degradation into consideration and should be able to help you work around any issues you may have. Be wary of someone that says, "My art won't injure...." It is not the art, but the teacher and the practitioner. Only you know what you are feeling. If you start to aggrivate an injury, let the instructor know or stop doing that particular activity.
 

TigerWoman

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Seig said:
It is not the art, but the teacher and the practitioner. Only you know what you are feeling. If you start to aggrivate an injury, let the instructor know or stop doing that particular activity.

Have to disagree, since that is not entirely true. Once you get bad knees, little cartilage or no cartilage left, they don't track as well. So then ligaments get stretched, hamstrings get injured. I've gotten to the point with even shuffling movements side to side, or back stance into back stance, the twisting hurts the ligaments. In Taekwondo, its mostly about the jumping too. We practice it all the time so that leaves me out lately. Anything with impact hurts knees with no cartilage. So, I either make up my own workout or leave because I can't participate. TW
 

Seig

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TigerWoman said:
Have to disagree, since that is not entirely true. Once you get bad knees, little cartilage or no cartilage left, they don't track as well. So then ligaments get stretched, hamstrings get injured. I've gotten to the point with even shuffling movements side to side, or back stance into back stance, the twisting hurts the ligaments. In Taekwondo, its mostly about the jumping too. We practice it all the time so that leaves me out lately. Anything with impact hurts knees with no cartilage. So, I either make up my own workout or leave because I can't participate. TW
How is it not true? The art is not at fault, it is up to the teacher and the practitioner to avoid the injury.
 

MJS

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I gotta go with Seig on this one. While I agree that all arts are different, we need to keep in mind that every body is different as well. That being said, just because one person might develop pain in their legs from a deep stance, does not mean that the person next to them is going to develop that same exact pain. The same can be said for knee problems. If someone is developing an injury then they should take it upon themselves to address it.

Mike
 

TigerWoman

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Taekwondo is an art with alot of jumping, no way around it. That's how we get into cardio workout. Hey we do front round side, ax, crescents on the floor, that's the warmup then comes the jumping. To get to the advanced technique and to practice it, spinning and jumping is a part of it. Even hopping and shuffling side to side is impact on knees. Twisting is impact on knees. There is a lot of twisting in TKD. So does my instructor make the whole class suit me or does he suit the majority of the class? Do I always have to do a "on the floor" exercise like just more front kicks when everyone else is progressing to jump front? Well, this is what I have been doing since Sept. but the "art" is not what I am doing. I am just doing exercise. My bad knees whether controlled by me or my instructor cannot let me progress in the "art". I can't even maintain a level without jumping. In this art you lose what you don't practice. I hope I have explained better that this one art, Taekwondo, I do know, does not fit for bad knees. TW
 

Seig

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TigerWoman said:
Taekwondo is an art with alot of jumping, no way around it.
There can be, depending on your level. There is also a proper way to jump and to land to minimize injury.
That's how we get into cardio workout.
This is your experience, at your school. Not everyone who does TKD does their aerobic activity this way.
Hey we do front round side, ax, crescents on the floor, that's the warmup then comes the jumping.
I do this with my Kenpo students. Before they get to that point, though, I make sure they are taught the proper mechanics of everything they do. They do not need to make the same mistakes I made and wind up with joints like mine.
To get to the advanced technique and to practice it, spinning and jumping is a part of it.
Again, in and of itself, not damaging.
Even hopping and shuffling side to side is impact on knees. Twisting is impact on knees.
]You are not differentiating between high impact and low impact. If someone is taught the proper way to do these from correctly formed stances, the impact is minimal. The knees are like shock absorbers, heavy impact on them is bad. Regulate or reduce the impact and they can handle the stress.
There is a lot of twisting in TKD.
Twisting is not unique to TKD or any art. It is common.
So does my instructor make the whole class suit me or does he suit the majority of the class?
He doesn't have to do either. What he should do, in my informed opinion, is have those that can do and have those that cannot, do what they can. No matter who you are, or which art you are doing, there are things that will be beyond your personal limitations. My wife has a cage in her back, she does not jump. Does this mean she cannot progress? No, that's just silly. If I have my upper belts doing jumps, and she cannot do them, I have her do the technique as a non aerial.
Do I always have to do a "on the floor" exercise like just more front kicks when everyone else is progressing to jump front?
If you have a physical limitation, then yes; that is exactly what you should do. If doing something is going to harm you or cause further injury, than doing it is just foolish.
Well, this is what I have been doing since Sept. but the "art" is not what I am doing.
That is absurd, the art is exactly what you are doing. Not being able to do one aspect of an art does not mean you are not doing the art. I had an instructor whose eyesight was so bad, he literally could only see six inches away. He did not do flying kicks; but he could fight with the best. He taught me to do things he himself could not do, because he could explain them, that is the job of a black belt, to teach.
I am just doing exercise.
That is your opinion. It sounds to me like you are limiting yourself in a physically positive way but in a mentally negative way.
My bad knees whether controlled by me or my instructor cannot let me progress in the "art".
Rubbish. If your instructor insists you do something beyond your physical limitations and that if you cannot you are not progressing in the art then either your teacher doesn't know what he's doing or doesn't care about his students. I sincerely hope I am misunderstanding you.
I can't even maintain a level without jumping.
In the 14 years I spent in TKD, I never once had an instructor insist I jump a certain distance or a certain height. All he/she ever cared about was, "Does he have the mechanics, can he pass it on?"
In this art you lose what you don't practice.
True in most areas of study.
I hope I have explained better that this one art, Taekwondo, I do know, does not fit for bad knees. TW
I would like to see you ammend that statement to "for beginners." I left TKD because I don't like Korean politics. The real issue with TKD and it's problems with people's joints is not the art, but how it is taught. I go back to my original statement, that a good teacher can help you either over come,work around, or compensate for limitations.
 

TigerWoman

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Seig said:
There can be, depending on your level. There is also a proper way to jump and to land to minimize injury.This is your experience, at your school. Not everyone who does TKD does their aerobic activity this way.
This way is not the only way we do aerobic activity but TKD is always jumping, hopping at the minimum. This is not the only organization I have seen which does considerable jumping. One other organization expects tumbling also, hahahaha from a 55 yr. old. And they have a cement floor with a few old mats.

The knees are like shock absorbers, heavy impact on them is bad. Regulate or reduce the impact and they can handle the stress.

What happens to knees after years of jumping? What cartilage you had does wear down. Its inevitable. The knees sans shock absorbers-the cartilage-- cannot handle any stress nor the ligaments or hamstrings-the twisting, and nor the pain--one can only take so much Advil.

Not being able to train to the capability of the art is not the art. Oh yes, you can do forms, and say you do TKD, but that isn't it. I teach it. So here is a jump spin heel. And for one my age, I have to practice it to show it, to teach it. Words only go so far. And for me to be challenged mentally and physically in the art, I have to practice it and progress-learn more both physically and mentally. Or regress.

I would not recommend Taekwondo as an art for beginners with bad knees because their knees will get worse from the wear and tear unless you can find a McDojang that doesn't require much to get a black belt.

And I probably should have chosen another art as well in the beginning. Bad knees don't get better with any kind of jumping, hopping, twisting. Hey, this is my personal experience here, walk in my shoes. TW
 
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SammyB57

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So basically.... Tae Kwon Do is all about jumping and spinning since those are the most effective self-defense techniques? I get it now.

You can't teach people with bad knees to do low kicks to knees and the groin, nor can you teach them blocks or defenses, nor joint locks, and Tae Kwon Do is absolutely useless to them. After all, why should martial arts be adaptable to people with injuries? Not like Chuck Norris ever did Tang So Do with a broken collarbone or anything... or like Bill Wallace ever became a karate champion with a bad leg.

Neh, I'm just kidding.
 
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