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Paul_L's picture
Relaxing When Kicking

This is something that I am struggling with at the moment.

I have had lower back problems sinse my 30s, actually its my hips that that cause my lower back to overcompensate. At 40 I had the great idea to begin Karate. At the start it was quite painful to kick but nowadays with all the excerise and daily stretches my back is a lot better and I have reasonable flexibility.

The problem seems to be that my body has not realised yet that a kick is no longer followed by a jolt of pain and I still tense up, which results in an awkard kick and that does effect my confidence in kicking and ironically hurts my back.

I am making an effort to spend time practicing all kicks more including jumpng and spinning kicks, both on the bag and in free air. This is working but any suggestions on tips or exercises I could try would be appreciated.

Chris R
Chris R's picture

This is my opinion, but bear in mind that this is not a replacement for professional advice:

Firstly, remember to be very mindful of technique and stability when throwing these kicks. The last thing you want to do is put more pressure on your lower back, and if you have previously had movement-related issues in your hips/lower back then you need to focus especially on having good technique, with the right muscles doing their job. If you cannot kick without the correct muscles doing their job, or if you cannot kick without compensating for a lack of flexibility, then you may be putting unnecessary pressure on your back.

In terms of drills, try slowing the kicks down, as in practice them in slow motion. Also try isolating certain parts of the movement, as in practicing individual parts of the kick by themselves. Focus on going slowly and smoothly with the right muscles activating and with sufficient stability, (including in the core). Try to rely on good technique and good muscular tension in the right places, while trying to relax your excessive lower back tension during the movement. Then, slowly progress with more and more speed until you can kick fast without the awkward tension. Also, I recommend starting with the basic kicks, as they are easier to control and practice slowly/smoothly compared to stuff like jumping kicks.

Hopefully some of this is usable for you.

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Hi Paul,

Very good advice from Chris.

You say that your flexibility is much better, have a look on joint mobility too. Sometimes our brain and nervous system are getting stuck in pain patterns. As the body doesn't get the memo that injury is healed, it tryies to protect the area where injury been.

Some doctor's now prescribe medication to "reset" nervous system, I prefer to use visualisation method. Try to seat comfortably close your eyes deep breaths, to relax as possible and imagine your perfect kick done without pain. Focus on every detail of that kick and how great it is to kick without pain. Hopefully with time your kicks will improve.

Kind regards


Paul_L's picture

Thanks for the tips. I incorporated these ideas into my current set of exercises and although too early to say anything definitive they did seem to help.

Anf's picture

Don't make the mistake I made. My story is very similar, except I think I'm coming out the other side of it now. Kicking more slowly as Chris R suggests is in my opinion the best one piece of advice possible. It gives your brain and nervous system plenty of time to respond to all the signals from your body, rather than over burdening muscles and joints and not even realising until after the damage has happened. Another piece of advice, from my own experience, is to lower your kicks a bit. If everyone else is kicking somewhere around head height, so what? Aim yours at mid section height, or lower. Whatever is comfortable enough for you to focus on technique rather than arbitrary measures. You'll still develop all the same muscles and reflexes, and your kicks will naturally get higher and faster and more powerful over time. Probably a lot faster than if you get into the yo yo pattern of temporary phenomenal gains, injury, recovery, loss of all those gains, back to square one.