Just for Kicks – Injury Prevention
by Ian M. Larson, DPT, cert. DN, Credentialed CI
AZOPT Buckeye Doctor of Physical Therapy
Chief Instructor of Martial Arts Academy Of Tang Soo Do Arizona

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Black belt instructor, my passion is to promote physical activity and fitness in the local community.  Throughout my career, I have met and treated many people who stay active through some form of kick boxing.  Whether you compete at a high level or enroll cardio based fitness classes, when kicking is involved, eventually many of you will start to feel pain in your knee.

For many of us, the knee pain originates from techniques used when kicking.  For example, if you are experiencing knee pain, and I asked you to demonstrate the numerous kicks you perform in class, such as a side kick or a round kick, I will most likely find your kicking leg is strong and powerful.  However, your standing leg may not be pivoting or turning fully.  Often, people become so focused on hitting the bag or the target that they forget to turn the leg on the floor.

This is extremely dangerous for your knee.  Many of the most powerful muscles in your body are in the legs. In fact, the power generated from a skilled kicker could break bones.  If you are not turning the stationary foot properly, repetitive, incorrect kicking causes excessive stress on the opposite knee.  Over time, this can cause pain leading to permanent damage which may lead to non-participation in these activities, or other activities you love.

So how do we remain active, healthy, and exercise proper technique during these kicks?  When you perform a round kick or side kick with your right leg, you first need to shift your weight to your left leg.  Additionally, your left heel should turn or pivot counter clockwise to point at the bag as you complete the kick with your right leg.  Conversely, if you kick with your left leg, your body weight will shift to your right leg and the right heel will turn or pivot clockwise and end pointing at the bag upon completion of the kick.

When discussing how to correctly pivot the left leg while performing a right leg round kick, Grandmaster Shin states, “Then, just before impact, the supporting leg turns at least 135 degrees to the left and the hip of the kicking leg turns over.1”  While performing a side kick or round kick, if the individual turns or pivots the stationary foot correctly, the hip on the kicking side will naturally roll over and allow both hips to open while keeping the knee and ankle properly aligned on the stationary leg.

Kick boxing classes and cardio kick boxing classes are not only great ways to exercise, but also fun!  I encourage you to try it, if you have not yet.  As with any exercise classes, it is very important to remember proper stretching is vital to avoid injuries.  If any exercise causes you to experience excessive pain, stop and evaluate your technique.  Do not push though pain.  This can lead to more serious injuries.  If you experience pain, contact AZOPT for your complimentary injury screen, and we can evaluate the root cause of the pain while providing recommendations for your next step to eliminate this pain.

  1. Shin J. Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume Two The Basics. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Jae Chul Shin; 1994:85.v