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I'm motivated to improve my jumping kick technique, within my weight and age limitations. I feel that it's a great way to improve strength, balance and proper kicking technique.

However, jump kicks are not advised for people older than 40, and I did feel some mild pain on my knees on the days following a jump kick practice session.

I'm considering using elastic bands to protect my knees. Is this a good idea? What type of band would suit better martial arts, or Taekwondo in particular? Would it be adequate to use it in all kinds of practice?

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    Who said jump kicks are bad over 40, by the way? That's new to me. But yeah, my knees are trash these days, and I suspect my early days with TKD contributed to it. If you have knee problems, it's time to see a sports medicine doctor to get it diagnosed. Then you get told whether or not you should continue doing jump kicks. Elastic bands do nothing. Nothing. They provide no extra structure. They don't warm your tendons. Etc. They're placebo. But it helps you remember not to mess your knee up, so that's why they're valuable. – Steve Weigand Jan 28 at 14:17
  • Oh, and I'll second the answers here about strengthening your muscles around the knee. If you ever have bad enough knee pain that you go to a sports medicine doctor, and he prescribes some physical therapy for you, the main thing they often tell patients to do is some strengthening exercises that work the lower quadricep muscles. They might have you do wall squats or something. That will help keep the knee from wobbling around as you do stuff. Flexibility in the knee is a hallmark of TKD, and I suspect it contributes to knee instability, so you need to strengthen those quad muscles. Good luck. – Steve Weigand Jan 28 at 15:38
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I'm over 40 and train in taekwondo; I've never been advised not to do jumps or jumping kicks! I train with a gentleman who doesn't jump (for patterns or sparring), but he is nearly 80 and has arthritis!

That's not to say my knees don't hurt at times. Some years ago, I had a problem with my knee called chondromalacia patella, which is caused by an imbalance in the ligaments and muscles around the knee. I spoke to my GP (doctor) and was given physiotherapy exercises to correct the imbalance, which made a huge difference.

As @collet89 said, braces and other supports can restrict motion; they can also lead to a false sense of security about the injury, ultimately making it worse.

As @steve-weigand commented, I recommend you contact your GP/physician or a sports physiotherapist for advice. They will assess what is actually wrong with your knees and prescribe and appropriate treatment regimen (which may include braces or supports, and exercises similar to those suggested by @Collet89). You really should get this advice before starting any treatment!

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I have no experience with elastic bands - so hopefully someone else will pick up on those.

I have tried Knee braces - but they often restrict the jump motion and the less restrictive ones are more prone to moving and less useful in protecting the knees.

So my tips for practicing those jumps are as follows

  • Find a sprung floor - this will allow you to practice barefoot with less pain/risk of injury. If that can't be done (or you want to practice in more accessible areas) ->
  • Wear Soft soled shoes - Cushioned running shoes are ideal, these will soften the impacts but beware of the weight of them, for practicing kicks they will act similar to ankle weights (though usually very light by ankle weight standards).
  • Strengthen the legs - Squats and weighted squats will help with jumping power, the leg press in the gym is also useful, all without the hard impact of falling back to earth.

There are all sorts of different knee-aides available these days, but I'd be dubious about wearing them for a taekwondo class. Will they push my knee straight with additional force? (which for front kicks/turning kicks could cause an over-extension). Will they take the impacts of kicking pads? Will they cause me additional injury (or injure someone else) in a leg clash in sparring?

If you do try anything please check with your instructor before wearing it in class - and report the results here!

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Land softly and work up

For those with the patience, I advise starting from a soft landing and working up from there. When you land, you reduce the forces on your joints by decelerating over distance. Land starting with bent legs and decelerate as your legs bend more. This is similar to catching an egg; you give to prevent shatter upon impact. I normally hear this described as landing like a cat rather than an elephant, though sometimes I wonder if this unfairly maligns the elephant when the humans are the bigger offenders. The sound of your landing should be soft rather than clomping.

The normal way of thinking about jumping techniques is to focus on the aerial portion: what the kicking leg is doing, or how much the body is rotating. The young and invincible types are not worried about how their landing is affecting their joints while attempting their 540 degree jump kicks; they are trying to increase height and rotation.

You do not need to kick or spin to practice jumping and landing softly. Once you can land softly without kicking, then you can start adding the aerial features while trying to maintain the same manner of landing.

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