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I'm 16 and I've been doing Tae Kwon Do for about a month and I've just received my yellow belt. Recently I've been having some pain in my knees after practise. I do all the stretching but it's not helping a lot. How can I avoid injuring my knees while kicking and how can I treat the pain in them? Should I wear any protection?

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The answers to this question pertain directly to your question: martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/2771/… –  The Wudang Kid Mar 30 at 14:29
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With the excellent answers below, it's also a good idea to look at form. It is possible that you are hyperextending your leg when you kick due to new/bad form. Get some video of you practicing and go through it with your sabumnim. –  JohnP Mar 30 at 22:23
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I recommend stopping all activity that causes knee pain, first. Second, head to a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist to figure out what's going on. You might have a serious knee issue. TKD can cause long-term chronic knee injury, even if you're doing right with the right form. Sorry to tell you that. Yes, weight training helps (squats in particular). But have a PT prescribe the exercises. Don't just think you can try stuff on your own. This is serious stuff. Do not go back to TKD until you've figured it out. I can't emphasize that enough. –  Steve Weigand Apr 2 at 3:30

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I train in Taekwondo and had a similar problem with my knees (though after a few years of training).

At the time, my doctor diagnosed "chondromalacia patella", which he said was caused by an imbalance in strength of tendons/ligaments across the knee. He prescribed a set of exercises to help balance the strength. These exercises were quite simple and didn't involve much weight.

If your knee problem is something similar, squats and deadlifts should be avoided, at least until the imbalance is corrected.

I would strongly recommend seeing your GP/doctor or a physiotherapist. Also, ease up on your training (shallower lunges and squats, lighter kicks, etc.)

At your age, it is very important to manage injuries carefully; your body will still be changing and injuries now can have a lasting impact.

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Firstly, DO NOT push yourself when doing front splits. This is the #1 reason Taekwondo-ka's hurt their knees. You don't need to be super flexible until you reach red belt (or maybe blue/red). When you do front splits, you're putting enormous amounts of strain on your cross-ligaments, which are a weak spot on your body as it is. I ruined my Taekwondo AND dancing careers because I thought I knew better than everyone else and kept doing high risk stretches and techniques when I was clearly told not to.

If your knees hurt, take it easy. If you injure your cross-ligaments even once, you're going to live with it for the rest of your life. In the meantime, put anti-inflammatory ointment on your knee and wear one of those badass knee supports that all the cool bro's have.

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Both Dave and Juann have good points. You should attempt to strengthen your knees with some low squats and deadlifts. Don't start to heavy or with too much and don't forget to do some proper stretching AFTER you work out as well as on your down time. With the stretching, make sure you are trying to keep it natural at first, then push into a mildly uncomfortable area while being mindful of any actual pain. If you feel pain in the stretch then stop. For the mean time until you are strong and flexible enough, try some anti-inflammatory creams or ointments and some ibuprofen(Advil or other). Avoid the use of braces or supports unless told otherwise by a doctor as it will hinder your knee's growth.

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Do not wear knee wraps or other protective devices unless you have to.

Protect your knees from damage by making them strong with progressively heavier barbell squats and deadlifts in a rational, proven strength program like Starting Strength. Squatting deep (hips below the knees) develops the muscle and soft tissue around the knees.

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Agree with all, but this answer would be better with information on "Starting Strength" or at least where to find that information. –  TimothyAWiseman Apr 1 at 16:32
    
@TimothyAWiseman I find that the minimum information is either extremely extensive or just a link. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 1 at 18:08

I suggest you trying not to use 100 % of your force and speed when you practice air kicking ( or empty kicking as some people call it ). If you do a very powerful and fast kick without hitting a target, like a pad or a sparring opponent, your knee joints will absorb all the force of the kick and you may get pain and inflammation. The pain could also be the result of overextending your leg and " locking " your knee when kicking ( this is very common when doing fast side kicks ) and this is also the result of kicking without proper control and technique. My advice is to stretch and warm up properly before your training and to use a moderate pace for your air kicking ( a slower pace will also allow you to focus more on balance and footwork ). For the moment just rest your knees and get back to training only when the pain is gone.

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