Is Kickboxing Bad for Your Knees?


Strong Asian boxing woman jump kick to huge punching bag at fitness gym. Athletic girl training Muay Thai boxing for bodybuilding and healthy lifestyle concept. workout in sport club.

Kickboxing is a superb self-defense system and a full-body workout that helps burn an estimated 450 calories each session of training! But since it focuses (obviously) on kicks, is kickboxing bad for your knees?

Here’s what I know from lots of kicks:

Kickboxing is not bad for the knees. If done properly, it can help make the knees stronger because the kicks involved and the associated drills involved in training help make leg muscles stronger, and this consequently makes the knees stronger. 

That being said, if you place the kick wrong, it could hyper-extend your shin and consequently hurt your knee.

So, it’s crucial to learn the proper technique first and then build power and speed. If one is careful and avoids injuries, kickboxing can even be a way to have better knees. This is not to say that there are no knee injuries.

This is often caused by errors on the part of fighters and is not intrinsic to the sport.

Some exercises would help make one less prone to injuries, and some that should be avoided. In this article, we’ll check out some riveting and relevant themes around whether kickboxing is bad for your knees.

Let the fun begin.

Is kickboxing hard on your joints?

Kickboxing is not hard on your joints. When it is practiced with proper care, it helps make your joints stronger because as you engage in it, the muscles around your joints are being exercised. And that is what makes them stronger. 

It’s a tad paradoxical, but the joints become stronger the more they are used.

And you’d use them a lot in kickboxing. Kickboxing is a full-body cardio workout. So, if you’re careful of sustaining injuries, your joints would become better for it.

Punching, blocking, and kicking offer many ways to contract and flex your joints over and over again, making them more flexible and thus reducing the likelihood that you’ll have issues with them.

But most contact sports come with the risk of injury, so there’s a need to be careful.

But the martial art that is often hardest on the joints would be traditional Karate which is often very rigid and practiced with a lot of tension and has a lot of repetition of moves in the many katas they practice.

Kickboxers, on average, say that it’s not hard on their joints, but there’s a need to ensure that the joints are not used for blocking. Apart from the fact that the pain could be intense, one could sustain a serious injury that way.

Is Muay Thai bad for your shins? 

In a recent article of mine, I showed that MT is not bad for the shins since they can be conditioned to be stronger. It’s just that the process takes time. Check the article for the full lowdown.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you protect your knees in kickboxing?

Always ensure that your knee is perpendicular to the target when executing a sidekick, and be careful not to hit your knee against a hard target directly. Do not overextend it when executing kicks, and keep your knees soft and slightly bent when you are training or competing. 

Before we check out 2 or 3 tips on how to protect your knee, I must remind you not to ever “tough things out” if you’re experiencing knee pain.

It’s good to be macho and all but not at the risk of ruining your knee. Stop if it’s hurting and get treated.

Balance the quads and the hamstrings

The hamstrings (muscles at the back of the thigh) are often neglected when folks train, and this can lead to an imbalance to the quads (muscles at the front of the thigh). The proper function of the knees relies on both muscles.

As I hinted at before, the knee can be strengthened by working on the surrounding muscles. The same logic works in protecting it too. If both muscles are firm and flexible, the likelihood that you’d have a “pull” is very low.

So, be sure to exercise both. You can use the hamstring machine at the gym, you can do straight-legged deadlifts, and you can pick up running. Running helps make the hamstrings stronger.

Avoid hyperextension

Hyperextension often occurs when you miss the target.

It’s something you want to avoid by practicing “perfect “ kicks. Hyperextension stretches out your ligaments and results in improper tracking of the kneecap.

A kick looks simple. Perhaps, it is, but it’s not easy. There’s a need to practice countless times with a training bag so that you get the alignment right. After lots of practice, you’ll be able to estimate how far the kick should go, and you’ll be able to know the position from which you’re not likely to miss your target.

Torn between Karate and Kickboxing? 

You’re in luck because a recent article of mine compares both, and I explained that kickboxing is better because it’s kind of like a 3-1 system. It’s a combination of boxing, Muay Thai, and Karate. But there’s a certain beauty and spiritual side to Karate that is missing in kickboxing. So it also depends on your goals.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How can I make my knees stronger?

The most effective way to make knees stronger is by strengthening the muscles surrounding them. The knees are the largest joints in the body, and it is not feasible to exercise them directly. 

It can only be made stronger by employing different exercises that help strengthen the muscles around them.

Ideally, you’ll want to consult a doctor before picking up any exercise regime or if you’ve had knee injuries in the past. The exercises are not strenuous, but it’s smart to be on the safe side.

There are a couple of such exercises, but because of space, let’s check out two.

They’re effective ways to strengthen the muscles around the knees and consequently make them stronger.

Leg Lifts

Lie on a hard floor with the back flat. You could use a yoga mat or an exercise flat. Both legs need to be straight on the floor but bring the right closer to the body as if to form a “triangle.” Then, slowly raise the left leg straight up several times.

Hold it up for several seconds before bringing it down. As you do, bring the knee closer to the body. Repeat several times, then switch sides and repeat.

Standing Hamstring Curls

Stand up straight with the knees about an inch apart. You could use a table or a desk for support, but both legs need to be straight. Standing on one leg, slowly curl the other backward until it forms a 90 degrees angle. Hold it up for about 5 seconds and then slowly bring it to the ground. Repeat several times. Then, switch sides and repeat.

Are martial arts what they’re cracked up to be?

In a recent article of mine, I shared several of the benefits they offer and showed they are more than worth it. Of course, some are better for self-defense, while others are better at building confidence and self-esteem. And a few do all of that.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you kickbox after knee replacement?

It is not advisable to take up any kicking sport after knee replacement surgery. Kickboxing is incredibly demanding, and there is always a risk of re-injury. After a knee replacement, it is smart to pick up sports that are equally fun but not as intense. 

If a knee has been replaced once, that is already a sign that that part of the body can no longer be taken for granted.

However, the way to go is to check with your doctor before you continue with kickboxing or get started with it if you’re just considering it. They would most probably ask you to consider another sport.

Our knees need exercise. 

So, even if it’s an artificial knee (when it’s been replaced), you still need to exercise your knees, but the last form of exercise or activity you need are high-impact ones that could lead to fresh trauma for your knees.

Consider that the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons does not even approve of running after a knee replacement. It stands to reason that a martial art as intense as kickboxing will be seen as unsuitable, to put it mildly.

Is Taekwondo better after a knee injury? And if so, how often can you do it?

In a recent article, I looked into Taekwondo training extensively. But people get into it for a variety of reasons, and it’s even an Olympic sport too. So whether you should do it and how often you train varies based on your goals.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What exercises should I avoid with bad knees?

The following are some of the exercises to avoid if you have bad knees: single-leg squat, full-depth lunge, plyometrics, duckwalks, hurdle stretch, and “W” sit and stretch. Different surgeons may have different suggestions, but the vital thing is to avoid exercises that can put too much strain on the knees.  

But how do physical therapists and doctors go about choosing the exercises to do and the ones to avoid.

An MD told Orthopedics Today:

“In general, if it feels comfortable with the patient if they are educated and trained well in the activity and they can do it without pain or discomfort and it is good for their cardiovascular fitness, we will encourage participation.”

If you have bad knees, avoid running, single-leg squat, full-depth lunge, plyometrics, duckwalks, hurdle stretch, and “W” sit and stretch.

Common sense is a good guide, and it’s good to also consult your doc if you’d like a personal recommendation.

Conclusion

Today, we looked at whether kickboxing is hard on the joints, how to make the knees stronger, and how to protect the knees.

But we also checked out if it’s okay to kickbox after knee replacement.

And, we wrapped things up by looking at exercises to avoid if you’ve got bad knees. That way you can stay and train safe and keep your body’s condition moving in the right direction.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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