The Effects of High Kicking

dubljay

Master of Arts
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
1,831
Reaction score
17
Location
California
Doc said:
I agree stretching is different as you suggest. However stretching, like all human range of motion has limitations, and stretching beyond a certain point can and will cause damage. Consider most gymnasts begin training at a young age while the body is naturally limber and plyable, and their gymnastic "career" is relatively short. By the time most are in their early to mid-twenties they would be considered "seniors" in gymnastic circles and begin coaching and teaching before any real irreversible damage is done from stretching and hyper-extension.
Good point, I've noticed that my ability to stretch has decreased noticeably compared to about 2 years ago. Just recovering from a nasty groin pull I am very very slowly starting to stretch more and more, part of the reason im going slow is to be sure I don't re-injure myself, but the other part is I simply can't stretch like I used to.
 

MichiganTKD

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
52
Location
Michigan, USA
Keep in mind, if high kicking is the only real workout your average student gives his legs and joints, then conceivably there could be problems down the road. They are engaging in an activity that is very stressful on the hips, then nothing, then stressful activity again. It also depends on how early you start training. Someone who starts at about 11-13, when the muscles, hips, and joints are much more pliable will undoubtably suffer fewer injuries and long term effects than someone who starts at, say, 35, when the musculoskeletal system is much less pliable due to age.
I have been doing high kicks for over 20 years to no ill effect. However, I will be the first to admit that if I have not stretched adequately, warmed up properly with cardio, or done high kicking in a while, I definitely feel it. Like any other physical activity, you must prepare for it. I have pulled back muscles doing spinning kicks without proper warmups.
Lastly, if you do not perform high kicks properly, you will suffer for it. I think many people emphasize the wrong muscle groups, which can lead to weakening of the muscles over time.
My recommendation?
1. Regular cardio to warm up and maintain blood flow to the muscles.
2. Weight lifting to keep the muscles strengthened.
3. Proper stetching to maintain muscular elasticity
4. Abdominal, hip, and lumbar conditioning, especially Pilates based, to keep those core muscles strengthened for high kicking.
 

Kenpodoc

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
734
Reaction score
19
Location
Ohio
Michigan TKD,

My concern is that Bill Wallace did everything you suggested and still ended up with new hips at a relatively young age. I believe that 20 years out he still felt great also. Personally, I believe that if you want to Kick high and take the increased risk of early joint replacement surgery , go for it. The surgery is effective and improving every year. I worry about telling others
My recommendation?
1. Regular cardio to warm up and maintain blood flow to the muscles.
2. Weight lifting to keep the muscles strengthened.
3. Proper stetching to maintain muscular elasticity
4. Abdominal, hip, and lumbar conditioning, especially Pilates based, to keep those core muscles strengthened for high kicking.
increases the risk that they think that they can kick high without risk of injury. I don't have a problem with risk taking but I do believe we need to recognize what the risks are and properly take them into consideration.

Jeff
 
OP
Makalakumu

Makalakumu

Gonzo Karate Apocalypse
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
13,887
Reaction score
232
Location
Hawaii
We do a lot of kicking TSD, but it is very different then a lot of other arts kicking. We do not do alot of the acrobatic stuff and our focus on kicking is probably 50% mid range, 25% low, and 25% high. Another difference, is our focus on proper technique. Hwang Kee lays this out very specifically in his books, and I was taught kicking technique so specifically, that my teacher would correct my form down to the inch.

With that being said, I truly believe that one can focus on developing kicks, even high kicks, if one focuses on developing good technique. Doc and Dr. Dave are absolutely right, kicks that bend and break the anatomical integrity of the body are damaging...yet this shouldn't come as a surprise because many other sports have damaging ways of doing things, and better ways of doing things.

With that being said, hook kick is a riskier kick to perform and it, in my opinion, is one of those kicks that can be harder on the hips when done high. Yet, hook kick can be done at a low range to strike the knee or to hook behind it. It can also be done at mid-range to strike the solar plexes with the heel or to perform kanai sutae (scissors take down). My teacher can turn what looks like a spinning side kick into a mid level spinning hook kanai sutae that ends with take down that literally slams your back on the ground.

We still practice a high hook kick and a high spinning hook, though...
 

MichiganTKD

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
52
Location
Michigan, USA
Not everybody is cut out to do high kicks. There are many members of our Tae kwon Do organization that physically cannot do them well, and we do not press them to try. They stick with what they can do and perfect those techniques.
Having said that, I agree that it is important to practice these high kicks in a way that maintains the body's natural hip-leg-foot-torso alignment. For instance, kicking without pivoting the foot? Very bad.
I think a technique like a spinning hook or back roundhouse should be done to minimize the forward torquing of the hip and leg. Let me explain. Some people perform a hook kick/back roundhouse from a forward stance, torquing this huge angle around with their hip and leg, almost like a question mark. I think it is unnatural and very hard on the hips, even if it does work on range of motion.
I think it is better to begin this technique in a sideways stance, either sliding into performing the technique (like a sliding side kick but doing a back roundhouse), or using it as a spin kick. I think either way will minimize stress on having to torque the hips all that distance around. Even I have trouble executing a hook kick from a front stance. It is just too difficult to get that much torque from a front stance.
Another example: Students who want to be able to do a vertical side kick to the ceiling. Talk about a useless technique!
 
OP
Makalakumu

Makalakumu

Gonzo Karate Apocalypse
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
13,887
Reaction score
232
Location
Hawaii
MichiganTKD said:
Not everybody is cut out to do high kicks. There are many members of our Tae kwon Do organization that physically cannot do them well, and we do not press them to try. They stick with what they can do and perfect those techniques.
Having said that, I agree that it is important to practice these high kicks in a way that maintains the body's natural hip-leg-foot-torso alignment. For instance, kicking without pivoting the foot? Very bad.
I think a technique like a spinning hook or back roundhouse should be done to minimize the forward torquing of the hip and leg. Let me explain. Some people perform a hook kick/back roundhouse from a forward stance, torquing this huge angle around with their hip and leg, almost like a question mark. I think it is unnatural and very hard on the hips, even if it does work on range of motion.
I think it is better to begin this technique in a sideways stance, either sliding into performing the technique (like a sliding side kick but doing a back roundhouse), or using it as a spin kick. I think either way will minimize stress on having to torque the hips all that distance around. Even I have trouble executing a hook kick from a front stance. It is just too difficult to get that much torque from a front stance.
Another example: Students who want to be able to do a vertical side kick to the ceiling. Talk about a useless technique!

There is also something to be said about over doing it. I've been to a couple of TKD dojangs where we did hyung the first ten minutes to warm up and by the end of class, we literally did a 1000(s) of kicks. Some TKD dojangs are 90% kicking and I think that this information is really important for those tae kwon doins to know.

I think that if one spends time training hands, feet, locks, throws, falls and grappling one will minimize the repetitive joint damage.
 

MichiganTKD

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
52
Location
Michigan, USA
Very true. It is possible to over train and overuse. That's one of the reasons why body builders vary their workouts, exercising different muscle groups on different days.
If you spend all your time on one set of techniques, you will undoubtably become very good at them, but in the process experience fatigue to those area. I think it's better, and my instructor has recommended, varying your workouts daily. Some days emphasize basics, some basic kicking, some form, some free fighting, some special drills. Aside from giving your various muscle groups a chance to rest, you also minimize burnout. How exciting is it to practice the same things every day? And the less interested you are in practicing a routine, the less likely you are to pay attention and more likely to injure yourself.
 
A

Andy Cap

Guest
MichiganTKD said:
Very true. It is possible to over train and overuse. That's one of the reasons why body builders vary their workouts, exercising different muscle groups on different days.
If you spend all your time on one set of techniques, you will undoubtably become very good at them, but in the process experience fatigue to those area. I think it's better, and my instructor has recommended, varying your workouts daily. Some days emphasize basics, some basic kicking, some form, some free fighting, some special drills. Aside from giving your various muscle groups a chance to rest, you also minimize burnout. How exciting is it to practice the same things every day? And the less interested you are in practicing a routine, the less likely you are to pay attention and more likely to injure yourself.
I agree. Also I would liek to add that you can keep working on the same thing, but try other approaches. For example if you want to work on your side kick you may consider the many different aspects of the kick - the abdominal muscle needed to throw a better kicks, the flexibility needed, the form... You could work on a side kick for days without even throwing the kick.
 

MichiganTKD

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
52
Location
Michigan, USA
Absolutely. There have been times when I stretched and exercised specific muscle groups to improve a particular technique. For example, I will do side kick stretches, hip abductor/adductor training, seated stretching with legs apart, and abdominal exercises to improve my side kick, while not actually throwing the kick itself. Just conditioning myself for it. One of the reasons why I have not experienced high kick problems.
 
B

Basicman

Guest
I'm sorry, but I disagree here. I think there is nothing wrong with practicing high kicks in moderation. I think where people can run into problems is when they try to "force" their body to do an action it is either not ready for or they physically should not be doing. If this was such a chronic problem, articles would be popping in medical journals and since the martial arts have been around for thousands of years, I am sure that would be more evidence.

Everybody's body mechanics are different, a mistake that many people make is that they think there is only one way to execute a side kick, when it is actually important for them to execute that sidekick the way their body allows them to.

Also static stretching is only going to have a limited effect on your kicking ability. Dynamic stretching is what makes a difference. Actually, by gradually increasing your range of motion, you can elimiate stretching. As long as you stay within your normal range of motion, there is no need to stretch.

Finally Doc, I disagree with you about gymnast as they get older get out of doing gymnastics and having or preventing physical problems. Most gymnast leave because of cost of coaching, and training. It is quite expensive and unless you have a sponsor of some sort, it is near to impossible. Also most gymnast want to go out and live life and start families, I thnik that is why most leave the sport and enter coaching.

Train hard.

John
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,234
Reaction score
176
Location
Southern California
Basicman said:
I'm sorry, but I disagree here. I think there is nothing wrong with practicing high kicks in moderation. I think where people can run into problems is when they try to "force" their body to do an action it is either not ready for or they physically should not be doing. If this was such a chronic problem, articles would be popping in medical journals and since the martial arts have been around for thousands of years, I am sure that would be more evidence.
The evidence is everywhere, but you have to look. Did you know all of those well known people had double hip replacement surgery? What are the odds of the average guy in his lifetime knowing more than one, if that, who had to have both of their hips replaced.

What you fail to realize is martial artist who engage in these practices are such a small part of the population, they fall off the statistical scale as being virtually non-existent. Even then most injuries are attributed to blunt force trauma or hyper-extensions and the medical implications of some of these kicks has never been fully researched by the medical community at large.
Everybody's body mechanics are different, a mistake that many people make is that they think there is only one way to execute a side kick, when it is actually important for them to execute that sidekick the way their body allows them to.
No, the mistake you make is your own misunderstanding of body mechanics. Everyone has the same body mechanics, but the extent they may utilize them is different due to variable factors in the dynamics of human physical geometry.

Some will always be capable of doing more or less depending on these factors. An eight cyclinder engine that has a larger displacement theoretically produces more horsepower, than the same design with less displacement, but the physics that propel them both are identical. The variables in the human body have to do with density and elasticity of tissue, but unless you're an alien, you're built the same as everyone else and mechanically move the same more or less.

One of the great misunderstandings over the last several decades is the "find your own way" philosophy that has fooled people into believing that body mechanics do not matter as long as you achieve the results you seek. The body doesn't see it that way, and eventually if pushed, will break.
Also static stretching is only going to have a limited effect on your kicking ability. Dynamic stretching is what makes a difference. Actually, by gradually increasing your range of motion, you can elimiate stretching. As long as you stay within your normal range of motion, there is no need to stretch.
I'm afraid that is outside my understanding. Medically one stretches to increase their range of motion, and what they achieve becomes "normal," even if it damages the body. I suggest that the kicks Chuck Norris performed were "normal" for him, but they ultimately resulted in body damage. So, I guess normal is a variable that shouldn't be determined by the individual's desire, but and understanding of body mechanic limitations. There are some things you simply should not do.
Finally Doc, I disagree with you about gymnast as they get older get out of doing gymnastics and having or preventing physical problems. Most gymnast leave because of cost of coaching, and training. It is quite expensive and unless you have a sponsor of some sort, it is near to impossible. Also most gymnast want to go out and live life and start families, I thnik that is why most leave the sport and enter coaching.
John
You think? They stop because they are no longer viable in an activity that places significant demands on them that they no longer can sustain physically or monetarily. You mean there isn't at least one guy who is sufficiently well off that he could afford to continue his gymnastics well into his twenties and thirties and go to the olympics because he loves it? You mean no one would sponsor this guy who has all of this expereince and skill that he could use to beat those upstart youngsters just starting out?

And while we're at it, why do they need coaching after they have become accomplished? Why can't they just keep doing what they already know? Is it possible someone has to continually refine their body mechanics? Martial artist could learn a great lesson from gymnastics. I have never seen so many "experts" in structural integrity and body mechanics.
 
B

Basicman

Guest
Doc said:
The evidence is everywhere, but you have to look. Did you know all of those well known people had double hip replacement surgery? What are the odds of the average guy in his lifetime knowing more than one, if that, who had to have both of their hips replaced.

Actually I know quite a few average people with double hip replacements. I am a RN and Paramedic. Hip replacements can and do happen to people with a genetic predisposition. Sorry I don't buy the theory that because you see some high profile people, that most Martial Artists are going to develop hip problems. That's like saying most runners are going to destroy their legs from running. I feel the medical evidence you are presenting is quite weak.

Doc said:
No, the mistake you make is your own misunderstanding of body mechanics. Everyone has the same body mechanics, but the extent they may utilize them is different due to variable factors in the dynamics of human physical geometry.

Some will always be capable of doing more or less depending on these factors. An eight cyclinder engine that has a larger displacement theoretically produces more horsepower, than the same design with less displacement, but the physics that propel them both are identical. The variables in the human body have to do with density and elasticity of tissue, but unless you're an alien, you're built the same as everyone else and mechanically move the same more or less.

One of the great misunderstandings over the last several decades is the "find your own way" philosophy that has fooled people into believing that body mechanics do not matter as long as you achieve the results you seek. The body doesn't see it that way, and eventually if pushed, will break.

Doc, I disagree again here with you. I may be using the incorrect terms. I agree that physics are physics. But alter the length and strength of the bone, tendon, joint, what have you, it is going to change how someone can move or whether or not I can perform a technique. IMHO, that is what I find wrong with TMA. I think the stances are entirely uncomfortable and have been made for a smaller person. I am sorry, but I think that a person needs to alter their technique to suit them.
 

dubljay

Master of Arts
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Messages
1,831
Reaction score
17
Location
California
Basicman said:
Actually I know quite a few average people with double hip replacements. I am a RN and Paramedic. Hip replacements can and do happen to people with a genetic predisposition. Sorry I don't buy the theory that because you see some high profile people, that most Martial Artists are going to develop hip problems. That's like saying most runners are going to destroy their legs from running. I feel the medical evidence you are presenting is quite weak.
You bring up running... well this is something I have done, and let me tell you from personal experience that I did destroy my knees as a result from distance running. The cause? IMPROPER TECHNIQUE. I didn't run using proper body alignment and mechanics... as a result I have chronic knee pain and stiffness. My coach warned me that I wasn't running right and it would cost me, but I couldn't change my running form. And just so we are clear about my coach's qualifications on this topic, she missed olympic trials due to injury, so she knows about running and the mechanics there of.



Doc, I disagree again here with you. I may be using the incorrect terms. I agree that physics are physics. But alter the length and strength of the bone, tendon, joint, what have you, it is going to change how someone can move or whether or not I can perform a technique. IMHO, that is what I find wrong with TMA. I think the stances are entirely uncomfortable and have been made for a smaller person. I am sorry, but I think that a person needs to alter their technique to suit them.
So you are saying that there is enough variance from person to person on their joints that inhibit "normal" ranges of motion? I find this unlikely. Excluding deformities and injuries the range of motion for a knee, hip, shoulder, ect is pretty much the same for each person. If they weren't how would doctors know what is right or wrong when examining a patients x-rays for example?
 
A

Andy Cap

Guest
The evidence is everywhere, but you have to look. Did you know all of those well known people had double hip replacement surgery? What are the odds of the average guy in his lifetime knowing more than one, if that, who had to have both of their hips replaced.
My father had both hips replaced twice. My brother in laws mother had both of hers done. Neither was a martial artist - genetics or hard living in general.

No, the mistake you make is your own misunderstanding of body mechanics. Everyone has the same body mechanics, but the extent they may utilize them is different due to variable factors in the dynamics of human physical geometry.
This is very true. In fact Asians have a different pelvic structure/geometry than Euro/Americans.



I do say though that proper technique will win out here. Of course just as it is with anything you de repetitively, eventually high kicking will take a toll, but so would low kicking, or bicyle riding, or anything else that require repetittion. We wear out.
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,234
Reaction score
176
Location
Southern California
Basicman said:
Actually I know quite a few average people with double hip replacements. I am a RN and Paramedic. Hip replacements can and do happen to people with a genetic predisposition. Sorry I don't buy the theory that because you see some high profile people, that most Martial Artists are going to develop hip problems. That's like saying most runners are going to destroy their legs from running. I feel the medical evidence you are presenting is quite weak.
I have two paramedics, four M.D.'s, and three D.C.'s as students, and I wasn't presenting evidence. To the contrary I was saying simply because you haven't heard of it, dosen't make it a nonexsistent problem. Those who have a predisposition to injury are even more in need of proper body mechanics to insure they don't elevate their chance of injury. And yes, runners will destroy their needs if they run imroperly. Your statement suggests that "runners" and "kickers" both automatically know how to do it properly. The mere fact we are having this debate about the subject suggests their are wide misunderstandings regarding the topic.
Doc, I disagree again here with you. I may be using the incorrect terms. I agree that physics are physics. But alter the length and strength of the bone, tendon, joint, what have you, it is going to change how someone can move or whether or not I can perform a technique. IMHO, that is what I find wrong with TMA. I think the stances are entirely uncomfortable and have been made for a smaller person. I am sorry, but I think that a person needs to alter their technique to suit them.
Sorry, but you seemed to have changed the subject. Body mechanics don't change and I addressed this point in my previous post, and allowed for inherent differences that do not alter the underlying fact we are all made the same. There will always be things that some will be able to do better than others, but the important thing is to realize there are some things no one should do improperly, and that list includes things that you CAN do but shouldn't be doing at all.

Other physical movement, including stances, may be anatomically adjusted to individuals, but they still must suit the body anatomically correct to avoid injury. Tall people may have a long stance, as an example, but someone shorter will have their stance shorter, but ultimately their feet should all have the same relationship to their body and the weight distribution should be the same if they are both to be correct. Sounds to me like you have some underlying issues with your own training and have persoanlized this exchange when you say "The stances are too uncomfortable." What stances are you talking about, and how did we get to what's uncomfortable for you over the topic of kicking properly? That was not the intent of the discussion.
 
F

F0E

Guest
upnorthkyosa said:
This post was originally posted in the Kenpo Forum. Dr. Dave gave permission for it to be shared. "We are designed to step high and reach forward with a foot, then pull the ground we gained to us (relatively)...the gluteus max, hamstrings, sacrospinalis, contralateral adductors, and some buncha other muscles come into maximum play with actions similar to walking up a hill, or stairs, or reaching far forward in a sprinting stride, then recoiling the leg back to the body to take the ground you covered in the forward stretch phase of the running gait. A front kick is akin to placing your foot on the hillside up in front of your thorax, then changing your mind about going uphill and bringing it back down again. For someone who takes many high steps covering lots of ground (i,.e., hikers, etc.), the flexibility is there to allow this motion to normalize within the complexities of the hip joint and pelvic nutation/counter-nutation rhythems."?
Alright, leaning to do high kicks that are side based is that more natural?
What if you have the leg supporting you bent does that effect the dynamics of kicking, I guess were lots of changes in the way the kick was thrown attempted to find the least stressful one. How much of a roll does flexiblity play, if any?

really no prevention other than a life style change, sweet
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,234
Reaction score
176
Location
Southern California
F0E said:
Alright, leaning to do high kicks that are side based is that more natural?
What if you have the leg supporting you bent does that effect the dynamics of kicking, I guess were lots of changes in the way the kick was thrown attempted to find the least stressful one. How much of a roll does flexiblity play, if any?
Simple. Look at the previous posts and responses. Make a decision if you want to do it or not, or seek in-person professional help with a medical professional for assistance.
 

Novitiate

White Belt
Joined
May 26, 2005
Messages
15
Reaction score
1
[font=&quot]This thread is of utmost interest to me as I started in Wing Chun Kung Fu. My instructor claimed that all kicks above the knee were useless. My father also being am ex Wing Chun practitioner claimed it was an "old man's art" i.e. it was easy on the body. I now find myself as a Tang Soo Do practitioner and find myself revisiting this issue.

As a teenager I was diagnosed with juvenile Arthritis (oshgood schlaters [spelling?]). Frankly I have rarely know such pain since then. I have felt fine during my training (3 years) and would generally say that my legs feel stronger and more limber.

I have heard that the micro fractures in martial practitioners actually strengthen the bone. And I think the stretching is good for the body (take yoga as an example)

my favorite seated position my whole life has been a variation on the classic lotus. Sitting at the computer I feel more soreness sitting like this than after a martial arts class. being ignorant of osteo health I would like some physician input on this issue. it seems to me that I have met few martial artists with serious hip problems, though most perhaps drop out before the onset. I have seen many Jujitsu and Judo practitioners hobbled from their art...
is this also true of high kicking?

any non-anecdotal evidence would be appreciated[/font]
 

bignick

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jul 30, 2004
Messages
2,892
Reaction score
37
Location
Twin Cities
I've been drifting in and out of this and related threads so forgive me if I missed this if it has been brought up before. But as far as the high profile martial artists and the damage done to their body...I'm sure these people, like Chuck Norris or Bill Wallace had some pretty severe conditioning routines in their day. They were extremely well conditioned and I'm sure it wasn't entirely from time spent strictly in the dojo/dojang. I'm sure they had intensive cardio/weightlifting/etc routines as well and I was wondering what some other people's thoughts were as to how this affected them as well. Although I can certainly see where kicking high can cause hip problems, I would think that there other workout habits contributed as well. It can be kind of a scary thought, that these people were so good but still ended up injured from their training, but I doubt the average person puts themselves through the same sorts of strain that they did.
 
OP
Makalakumu

Makalakumu

Gonzo Karate Apocalypse
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
13,887
Reaction score
232
Location
Hawaii
The same can be said of throwing a ball overhand or running on a track. I think the constant repetitive motions involved do as much or more to injure the body as the technique itself. One of the things I like about the martial arts is that one can move the body in all sorts of ways and does not need to hyperfocus on one thing. In my opinion, a good work out routine and good training focuses on all sorts of ways to move.
 
Top