Ti Chi Chuan and knee problems?

PK_Tricky

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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If I recall correctly, you're self-taught right? Doing any physical activity for up to 5 hours a day (especially a martial art where you hold your body in weird ways) can cause injuries/worsen injuries if you're not doing it with proper form. Kind of like how people hurt their knees running with bad form or doing squats with bad form.

Depending on how heavy you are, and which form you're doing, holding certain poses for too long could also cause damage to your knees, but from the tai chi I'm (minimally) familiar with, that shouldn't be an issue if your form is correct.

My main advice would be to either slow down a bit (especially once you start feeling pain/swelling), and/or see if you can find a sifu to at least look at your form to see if you're doing any motions that might be causing the issue.

If you're unable/unwilling to find a sifu for whatever reason, you could also post a video here for feedback, though I'd recommend in-person primarily because they can see from different angles, and it's easier/quicker IMO (they tell you a fix, you do it, they see if that fix is correct vs. we tell you an issue, you fix, upload another video, we tell you if that's correct).
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!
You are likely grabbing your knee take the tension out of the ankle and the knee. Feel the bottom of the foot. Let the thighs hold you up. Take the tension out of the buttocks. Feel the pinkie toe on the ground. Thats the balance line. Feel the big toe on the ground. Thats the power line. Feel the center of the forefoot. Thats the bubbling well. Feel the toes long and the heels long like skis. Do not grip the floor with the toes. The bottom moves the top, the inside moves the outside, the back moves the front. Keep your eye up so your head stays up. Do not double weight the legs, all the weight is on one or the other except the very first and the very last postures. Press the inside of the chest to the front of the spine, and the front of the spine to the inside of the chest. Lift the inside of the abdominals and let the lumbar go down. Keep the Kegel throughout the form. Spread the back. Externally rotate the thighs. Carry the upper arm. Spread the thumb away from the index finger. Feel the breath go up and down like a big respirator. Feel the head go back and up. Put the tip of tongue on roof of mouth just behind the front teeth. When you begin the form, pretend there is a large stump in the space directly in front of, and between your feet. You must step/move around it. try to get the footwork before the hands in the postures. Remember, no root, no power, no foot, no punch. If the knee swells, and is an otherwise healthy knee, it is because you are using it as a weight bearing instrument rather than making the structure hold you up. If you have questions about what I mean feel free to ask. I hope this can help you. I dont recommend carpet to learn the form. After you have the form down you can use any surface, but initially a hard smooth surface is best to prevent twisting the knee as a result of the torque created by the foot sticking to the floor surface. You really need an instructor more than anything.
 
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PK_Tricky

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You are likely grabbing your knee take the tension out of the ankle and the knee. Feel the bottom of the foot. Let the thighs hold you up. Take the tension out of the buttocks. Feel the pinkie toe on the ground. Thats the balance line. Feel the big toe on the ground. Thats the power line. Feel the center of the forefoot. Thats the bubbling well. Feel the toes long and the heels long like skis. Do not grip the floor with the toes. The bottom moves the top, the inside moves the outside, the back moves the front. Keep your eye up so your head stays up. Do not double weight the legs, all the weight is on one or the other except the very first and the very last postures. Press the inside of the chest to the front of the spine, and the front of the spine to the inside of the chest. Lift the inside of the abdominals and let the lumbar go down. Keep the Kegel throughout the form. Spread the back. Externally rotate the thighs. Carry the upper arm. Spread the thumb away from the index finger. Feel the breath go up and down like a big respirator. Feel the head go back and up. Put the tip of tongue on roof of mouth just behind the front teeth. When you begin the form, pretend there is a large stump in the space directly in front of, and between your feet. You must step/move around it. try to get the footwork before the hands in the postures. Remember, no root, no power, no foot, no punch. If the knee swells, and is an otherwise healthy knee, it is because you are using it as a weight bearing instrument rather than making the structure hold you up. If you have questions about what I mean feel free to ask. I hope this can help you. I dont recommend carpet to learn the form. After you have the form down you can use any surface, but initially a hard smooth surface is best to prevent twisting the knee as a result of the torque created by the foot sticking to the floor surface. You really need an instructor more than anything.
Wow thank you, I will give this a try and focus on what you described. If I am still having problems I will let you know. I think alot of it has to do with how hard I push myself. I tend to want results the same day when that is simply not how it usually works. I can make it happen but I generally get hurt (like my knees). Perhaps I should practice the movements very very slowly for a while, and possibly learn a set. I think your post will help me, but thats alot so I will keep that in mind as I change my routine. Thanks again Wing Woo Gar!
 

Tony Dismukes

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I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day
Practicing a specific skill-based physical activity like Tai Chi for 5 hours a day is a lot. Even for someone taking regular classes, I would recommend taking some time to build up to that. Your body has to adapt to the demands of the exercise.

In addition, it takes time to learn correct form so that you aren't setting yourself up for overuse injuries. Even with an in-person instructor, that also takes a while. For someone like yourself who isn't taking classes and who isn't getting any correction on their form, that volume of training is asking for trouble.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Wow thank you, I will give this a try and focus on what you described. If I am still having problems I will let you know. I think alot of it has to do with how hard I push myself. I tend to want results the same day when that is simply not how it usually works. I can make it happen but I generally get hurt (like my knees). Perhaps I should practice the movements very very slowly for a while, and possibly learn a set. I think your post will help me, but thats alot so I will keep that in mind as I change my routine. Thanks again Wing Woo Gar!
Do not push, pull instead. You cannot force Tai chi Chuan training. It takes time. A LOT of time. If you expect results from one day or even moderate results from one year, you are bound for one of three things. Injury, disappointment, or delusion are sure to be your rewards. Post videos of your training (with feet visible). Show several angles. Start with the first section and first pose transition. BE PATIENT! Oh and BE PATIENT! One more thing, BE PATIENT! Find a legitimate Sifu, there is literally no replacement. We can help you with tips but you NEED in person instruction. Just knowing the choreography is not enough. You can expect a ten year journey to become somewhat proficient with the form. I dont say this to discourage you, really, 10 years is just a bachelors degree. I have been at it over 25 years, I am just far enough to realize how little I know. @Xue Sheng is a good resource, @Kung Fu Wang also is quite skilled and knowledgeable. I am sure there are others with similar experience and expertise in this regard. You will likely hear similar responses regarding getting an in person teacher.
 

Xue Sheng

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!

Out of curiosity, what style of Taijiquan are you working with.
 

Flying Crane

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If I recall correctly, you're self-taught right? Doing any physical activity for up to 5 hours a day (especially a martial art where you hold your body in weird ways) can cause injuries/worsen injuries if you're not doing it with proper form. Kind of like how people hurt their knees running with bad form or doing squats with bad form.

Depending on how heavy you are, and which form you're doing, holding certain poses for too long could also cause damage to your knees, but from the tai chi I'm (minimally) familiar with, that shouldn't be an issue if your form is correct.

My main advice would be to either slow down a bit (especially once you start feeling pain/swelling), and/or see if you can find a sifu to at least look at your form to see if you're doing any motions that might be causing the issue.

If you're unable/unwilling to find a sifu for whatever reason, you could also post a video here for feedback, though I'd recommend in-person primarily because they can see from different angles, and it's easier/quicker IMO (they tell you a fix, you do it, they see if that fix is correct vs. we tell you an issue, you fix, upload another video, we tell you if that's correct).
@Monkey Turned Wolf has hit the issue on the head. If you are self-taught, this is an example of the oft-given warning that you can hurt yourself if you do things incorrectly. This is why some of us repeatedly give the advice that you really should not be trying to figure these things out by yourself. The right way to go about it is under the guidance of a good teacher.

Yes, you can get injured training taiji. Even though it is (often, but not only) done as a slow exercise, there are issues in the movement and transitions from one posture to another that can cause injury if you are doing it incorrectly or if you dont line up the posture reasonably accurately. Over the long-term, your knees can become seriously damaged if you never get proper instruction to clean up what you are doing.

It sounds to me like you have stumbled into this the hard way. I am sorry for your injury and hope you are able to make a full recovery. But I suspect that will not happen if you continue to try and do this on your own. You need to stop what you are doing and let your knees recover before they become seriously damaged. Then you need to find a competent instructor who can guide you through this properly. That is how you do it without injury.

I am afraid online advice, while it may be well-intentioned, can be more harmful than helpful, especially when you are already getting it wrong enough to be hurting your knees and causing them to swell up. Getting this stuff right takes direct feedback from a good teacher who can see you and evaluate what you are doing. A lot of things are subtle and can only be seen and corrected when someone is working directly with you. This cannot be corrected by reading descriptions of what you are doing, or by watching video of your performance and then trying to tell you how to fix it. And you dont know who, in an online forum, is even skilled and competent to give you accurate advice. So dont do it.
 
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mograph

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It's really easy to mess up your knees doing Tai Chi, even slowly.
For your own sake, get a good teacher, or find another hobby. There are a lot of drawbacks, and no benefit, to doing Tai Chi badly.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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you can hurt yourself if you do things incorrectly.
The most common error that people may do is to have his

- left front foot points north.
- right back foot points southeast.

When your body is moving toward north, since your back foot is pointing to southeast, you will put extra pressure on your right knee joint. The more that you repeat this mistake, the more that you may hurt your right knee joint.

This is why to have a perfect bow-arrow stance that your

- left front foot points north,
- right back foot points northeast

is important. In other words, your "back knee" should alway point toward the direction that you intend to move toward.

A correct bow-arrow stance can only be taught by a qualified teacher.

Another thing is also important, Before you kick your right back leg toward north, your left front foot should turn toward northwest first. This way, you won't put extra pressure on your left knee joint.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!
Start with a high stance then lower your stance 2 inches. Train at this height before which should be higher that 50 %. I also recommend doing static stances correctly at the same height. Hold the stance for 30 seconds. Keep doing this even if it feels easy. This will help condition your tendons and ligaments. It will also help you avoid a lot of big errors. Focus on how the weight is distributed across the bottom of your feet. Does it feel like too much weight IA on your toes or heels. Learn how to keep the weight equally distributed across the bottom of your feet. Don't do more than 5 sets. This is important training. It's also the long way because you don't have anyone to correct you on the spot. So you really have to ease your way into it. you need to learn how to detect small shifts in your weight so that you can correct it before it turns into a big shift.

Start small grow big. Start Big hurt big
 

Wing Woo Gar

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@Monkey Turned Wolf has hit the issue on the head. If you are self-taught, this is an example of the oft-given warning that you can hurt yourself if you do things incorrectly. This is why some of us repeatedly give the advice that you really should not be trying to figure these things out by yourself. The right way to go about it is under the guidance of a good teacher.

Yes, you can get injured training taiji. Even though it is (often, but not only) done as a slow exercise, there are issues in the movement and transitions from one posture to another that can cause injury if you are doing it incorrectly or if you dont line up the posture reasonably accurately. Over the long-term, your knees can become seriously damaged if you never get proper instruction to clean up what you are doing.

It sounds to me like you have stumbled into this the hard way. I am sorry for your injury and hope you are able to make a full recovery. But I suspect that will not happen if you continue to try and do this on your own. You need to stop what you are doing and let your knees recover before they become seriously damaged. Then you need to find a competent instructor who can guide you through this properly. That is how you do it without injury.

I am afraid online advice, while it may be well-intentioned, can be more harmful than helpful, especially when you are already getting it wrong enough to be hurting your knees and causing them to swell up. Getting this stuff right takes direct feedback from a good teacher who can see you and evaluate what you are doing. A lot of things are subtle and can only be seen and corrected when someone is working directly with you. This cannot be corrected by reading descriptions of what you are doing, or by watching video of your performance and then trying to tell you how to fix it. And you dont know who, in an online forum, is even skilled and competent to give you accurate advice. So dont do it.
Well said, as usual for you. Thank you for writing this.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!
All the replies here come from people who have a lot of experience. I respect and agree with everything they wrote here, you should take the advice most often given here. Go find a legitimate instructor. After you do, then come back and post how it went. Im sure we would all like to hear about your experiences.
 

JowGaWolf

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Hello everybody! I am somewhat new to Ti Chi and it seems that if I do alot of training, my knees swell up considerably. I think it may have to do with the speed of my training and the fact that I am doing it on carpet rather than a smooth surface. I generally practices between 1-5 hours a day, and eating a balanced diet has been an ongoing issue, so that might be part of it. Perhaps, It has something to do with how my legs and feet are moving? If anyone knows any way to prevent this from happening, or any excersizes to keep my knees from complaining so much, do share. Thank you and have a great day!
You will have difficulty with martial arts if you don't have a good grasp of the stance. Everything grows from the stance. I would star their first learn the correct way to do stances.

Don't learn from the stance videos that say it's necessary to do super low wide stances. If the bend at your knee is 90 degrees then your stance is too low. If you feel pressure on you knees then shift your weight to your heels. If you still feel pressure the raise your stance. If you still feel pressure then take a break.

I wouldn't try to learn too much until you can get your stances fixed. If your knees swell then it may be necessary to take some days off so your knees can heal.
 

Old Happy Tiger

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There is three main style of Tai Chi Chuan (TaijiQuan) (Chen, Yang and Wu). If your practicing Chen style, that has very low stances I 100% would understand knee issues with that. Yang style which is the most popular is a bit higher up in "some" stances, but not all. One thing to do depending again on what style of Tai Chi Chuan (TaijiQuan) that you are doing, is make the time your doing them shorter. For example, do the first five movements of the form on Monday, then the next few on Tuesday. After a month or two.. or more then increase the amount of movements of the form each day and see if you are able to do the form in one or two days max.

There is also a huge benefit on doing one of the movements and holding the last position of the movement, remember not to tense up. One of my favorites that I do, is brush the knee and push (sometimes called brush knee and twist step). And when you practice that... say on the weekends, keep your stance more higher then what you see "out there", then after a month lower the stance just a little bit.. If you do small things like that, you will find things DO get easier in a few months down the road. Do not push yourself, it takes time.

The other reason why you would want to get to the correct stances in height, is because each of the movements of the form, there are specialized forms of jing (essence) in the movements themselves. Having a forward stance is used a lot in uprooting power (ti jing) in Push and Press, moving an opponents upwards and backwards. Even if it takes a while, it's still of benefit of what you are doing.
 
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