Is Karate Bad For Your Joints?

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If you’re feeling sore and beaten up after Karate sessions, you likely wonder if it’s harmful for your joints.

Karate can be bad for your joints because it’s a physical activity where you might encounter joint and muscle injuries such as dislocation, a ligament tear, and more. You can injure your joints with no proper warm-up, overworking, and not wearing the right gear in sparrings and tournaments. 

Having knowledge is the best way to prevent injuries and accidents from happening. Check out what I’ve prepared for you below.

How Karate can affect your joints

Karate man performing difficult stances

Karate can either strengthen or hurt your joints. Joint pains are expected during the process. In the long run, you’ll have tougher joints.

It’s a physical sport

Because Karate is a martial art, you can expect to feel joint and muscle pains, especially during your first months of training. 

You can also experience joint pains when you’ve returned from a long training rest. The next day after your training, it’s normal to feel pain in your shoulder, knee, hips, and ankle joints. 

Usually, these joint pains come with sore lower body muscles because Karate mostly fatigues those areas.

When you encounter these pains during your first training sessions, don’t wait for them to go away before training again. 

The remedy for this is to train regularly to make your joints accustomed to Karate movements. 

Teammates with no discipline

There’s nothing more annoying when your sparring partner goes 100% power on a 50% light sparring. 

Going heavy on sparring opens up more risks, which can cause injuries to one martial artist. You can get joint pains or worse, like concussions.

Too many strong kicks on the calf and hip area can cause injuries despite wearing a shin guard. These body parts may even bruise up after a day or two.

Yes, physicality is a part of the game, but discipline needs to be there over anything else. 

The purpose of sparring is to test certain move sets to your teammates without risking getting severely countered. 

No knowledge about Karate

If you’re a newbie to Karate, stop trying advanced spinning and flying kicks; trying these moves with insufficient knowledge about proper movement might cause your joints to get injured quicker.

With the improper technique, your joints will take all the force. A lousy twist can tear some muscle that might stop you from training.

To perform these maneuvers, start with the basic roundhouse and front kicks. This way, your body won’t suffer shock so easily by doing different movements. 

Is Karate the reason for my sore joints?

Karate martial artist stretching his joints

It’s not good to jump directly to conclusions. Think about what type of Karate training you did earlier; if it’s vigorous, it might be the reason for your sore joints. But if you had light training, then there might be other reasons

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If you’re sure it’s from Karate, there’s nothing to worry about. That’s normal, and a simple cold compress will do the job. You can expect it gone in a few days.

But if the joint pain continues, it’s better to give your doctor a visit for them to check. 

Things to avoid to prevent bad joints in Karate

To keep yourself away from joint injury, here are the things you need to avoid doing while in training.

Not doing any warm-ups

Warm-ups and stretching are essential before the training to prepare your joints and muscles for work. 

Without a warm-up, your body joints are stiff; if you force them to do work immediately, they will struggle to perform their best. It might even cause injuries if you do this on a hard training day.

After the body movement exercises, it’s good to end the warm-up with a series of stretching. It’s essential to do this to have good blood circulation, especially for those body parts you’ll use in Karate.

It’s up to you how long you want your warm-up. But from my experience, the longer, the better.

Not doing any cooldowns

Cooldowns are as crucial as warm-ups. Do it after training to calm your pumped body. Cooldown workouts will help your whole body recover from muscle and joint fatigue.

Cooldowns also help blood pressure and heart rate return to normal after Karate training.

You don’t need to do high-intensity workouts for your cooldown. A simple light jogging, walking, or a series of stretching will do for a cool down. 

You can also cool down by calling your training buddy and have 3 rounds of shadow sparring. Shadow sparring is like a regular sparring session, but you don’t hit your partner. It’s all about technique.

Not wearing protective gears

Karate protective equipment for the hands

Every Karate style you can find requires protective gear, especially during sparring. These can be a shin guard, groin guard, and headgear.  Not wearing these might get you one step closer to a joint injury.

Not wearing any shin guards will make bone-to-bone contact when you happen to land kicks around the hips or knees. Even high-ranked Karate black belts use protective gears, so why wouldn’t you?

A Karate glove is also considered protective gear. It adds a protective padding layer to your knuckles to reduce the impact of the punches you’re throwing.

Try wrapping compression tapes around your knee and elbows to keep them secured during impact. 

What to do if you have bad joints from Karate

If you’re unlucky enough to have bad joints, don’t be upset; you can still do Karate with the help of these remedies. 

Do mobility exercises 

Try doing mobility exercises alongside your Karate program. These mobility exercises will help strengthen your joints and muscles to prepare for Karate.

There are a lot of mobility exercises. You can do a simple standing calf stretch, hip flexor stretch and cobra stretch, and more.

Try making these exercises a part of your daily routine. It’s best to do this after waking up to also prepare yourself for the whole day. 

Try different Karate styles

Some Karate styles might not be suitable for your weak joints. Kyokushin Karate is the hardest style you can try because it focuses on power and damage, putting more pressure on your joints.

You can try Kenpo Karate which specializes in more practical self-defense moves which are easier to execute. 

There are a lot of Karate styles to choose from, such as Goju-Ryu, Shotokan, and Shito-Ryu. If these styles still don’t fit you, you can also try other sports and martial arts of your liking.

Stay in shape

Being overweight will give extra work for your poor joints to carry. If you force yourself to do Karate, it might permanently damage your joints and cause you to step away from Karate. 

An excellent way to stay in shape is to have a balanced diet with regular exercise to burn extra body fat. 

Karate is not only the choice of activity that makes you sweat. You can have an early morning walk or follow YouTube videos regarding home workout routines. 

It’s okay if you don’t have the right body type for Karate, but at least get in shape to help your body adapt to the level of work you’ll do.

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