Reader Question: What Can I do to Prevent Knee Issues?

My name’s Steve, and I’d really like to begin training in karate again.  That being said, I’m way overweight (5’11″, 290), and have hurt my knees running a 5K, throwing kicks and not pivoting correctly, etc.  Is there anything I can do to prevent knee issues and/or address them after the fact?  Thanks for any advice!

I’m more of a sports bra aficionado; knee braces are outside my realm. I have noticed that knee problems seem to be the status quo for older karate-ka. So, I sincerely hope there’s a way to prevent knee problems.

Well, fellow karate-ka, what do you know about knees and knee problems? Give your best advice in the comments below. $5 Starbucks Gift Card for one random commenter (using the excel spreadsheet method). We’ll give away the gift card during the first week of June.

  • Steven Bruce Croft

    This is a close subject to my heart because over the last three years I have injured both knees in karate. I am also 5’1’1″ and weigh 340 pounds and the weight has definitely put stress on my knees. I had the same injuries on both knees mulitple times now. I damaged my ACL, MCL AND LCL all at the same time. Here are the things I did to strengthen:

    1. Lose weight – This has helped tremendously take a lot of strain off.

    2. Get a quality knee brace – Skip the crappy $20 brace from Wal Mart – I personally recommend this one, I use it and id adds support for the ACL, LCL AND MCL. (Cost: $60)

    3. Rehab the knee: Do rehab exercises to the knee every day. Consult a physical therapist or do some online research and you can find some great exercises that help rebuild strength in the knee.

    Hope this helps!

  • Felicia (not her real email)

    [This came via email. Stacy entered the comment here, so Felicia could be entered in the drawing.]

    I’ll give the knee question a shot!

    I’m a track & field competitor (23 years) – turned karateka who, at age 46, is still going strong. The secret to keeping the knees (heck any joint!) healthy is keeping it strong, IMO. Biking, moderate (as in amount of weight) squats/leg press/leg extensions/leg curls and other regular aerobic stuff like elliptical training are very good things because they not only keep the joint moving, but strengthen the surrounding muscles and the tendons that attach them to the knee itself.

    In the dojo, it’s important to use proper form when executing techniques – like no twisting (complete pivots only – as in from the HIP) when throwing kicks. Also, try to limit pounding and even standing on surfaces that are too hard (floors that are over hard, hard concrete), too soft (mushy mats!) or uneven. Sure, you might encounter uneven surfaces in a “situation,” but training on them is a totally different story.

    Lastly – and this is probably the most difficult to do – don’t be afraid to take time off the rest/heal even a minor injury. Not doing so can help turn a nagging boo-boo into a
    chronic injury more quickly than most of us think. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or can’t “hang” if you sit to let your body heal – it just means you want to be able to climb onto the mat still when you’re 64 :-)

    Enjoy your training!

    - Felicia H.

  • Sandy

    I’ve read you should avoid leg extensions done with weights. Too much stress on the quads is bad. I have arthritis in my hips and knees, so I do really slow jogging (but not on a treadmill!), shallow squats. No lunges or jumping jacks. Water aerobics are always good and low impact. Yoga and gentle stretching. And if your instructor allows it, modify what you do in class.

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