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I started Muay Thai today, and when doing a basic kick (a straight teep) above my waist level, I felt strong resistance/mild pain where my leg connects to my hip, right at the top of the leg, by the joint. This sensation was in the front of the hip, at the top of the quad.

It wasn't the kind of pain that's associated with injury or anything like that-- it was distinctly the "this doesn't stretch that way" feeling.

But...I consider myself flexible. I can do a longitudinal split! However, trying a sideways split feels like I'm going to break a hip.

So why can't I kick above waist level? And how can I improve this, if indeed I can?

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Was the pain at the front or back of the leg, i.e. at the top of the quads or hamstrings? Or was it higer still, maybe at the bottom of your abdominals? Or in between? Which splits can you do - longitudinal ("American") or side ("Chinese")? –  slugster Apr 30 '13 at 5:26
    
Also, which kicks? Teep, round? –  Dave Liepmann Apr 30 '13 at 13:36
    
Pain was in the front at the top of the quad. I can do longitudinal, not even close to Chinese; that feels like I'm going to break a hip when I try it. –  Aerovistae Apr 30 '13 at 14:41
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If it happened during teeps, maybe your hip flexor was tired, and it wasn't about flexibility. If it was during round kicks, then it was almost certainly a lack of sideways flexibility. If it's just a stretchy problem and not pain, then keep training for a few months and see what happens. To get more answers here, you'll need to edit the question to include a lot more detail about the location of the pain, type of kicks, and background on previous training and flexibility benchmarks. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 30 '13 at 15:26
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Dynamic flexibility is different; the quick motion of a kick can cause the nervous system to fire and tighten the muscles to prevent flexion (similar to the tightness caused by even a minor car accident). –  stslavik May 3 '13 at 17:33
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2 Answers 2

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Weakness

It could be that your hip flexor was tired or even inflamed, since you're not used to raising your leg to the front. If this is the case, recovery and subsequent training over several weeks should resolve the issue.

Inflexibility

Though you can do a split to the front and back, maybe your dynamic flexibility is poor. Static flexibility does not directly transfer to movements at speed. See Kurz' Scientific Stretching for more on this topic. If it's not painful, this kind of flexibility will grow gradually with regular training.

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I had the exact same problem and no one understood it. Then I showed it to someone and they looked at my kicking technique and noticed that my style was wrong.

They showed me that if I try to lift heel above my knee height while the foot is horizontal and behind my back, my leg will try to twist in a way which is hazardous. They put me to try the same motion on the ground and I saw how much it hurt. When stretching the leg never takes that position.

He got me to kick in the same trajectory as on the ground stretches and to modify my posture to balance it accordingly and the hip pain stopped. It is kinda hard to describe without getting too wordy and losing the point but the essence was bad style.

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