View Full Version : Aikido hurts too much

Please visit our sponsor:

08-21-2001, 11:11 PM
I'm very new to aikido and I must say that it really hurts me.

My shoulders hurt, as do my knees (when I bend). Am I too old for this training, I'm 47?

Should I quit it and take up something like golf, or should I see a sports doctor? I really enjoy the training, but I think I could be hurting myself a little too much (will I do permanent damage to my knees?).

Has anyone else had these problems? Is aikido just for young people?

08-21-2001, 11:17 PM
i would say that these types of aches and pains after a good training session are not only normal and commonplace, but desired (sure lets me know im alive, if you can call it that!). no, you should not see a sports doctor or drop aikido, nor should you go to your sensei asking for special treatment. if you have bad knees to begin with, then i can see your problem, but i have 50 year old chainsmokers that kick my ass pretty regularly at training. not to worry, its all normal.

08-22-2001, 12:49 AM
Hi Jack,

you wrote, you were very new to Aikido. If your knees are not seriously damaged, the pain will probably disappear, after you learn how to fall correctly and safely (it is not easy thing), how to do tenkans, knee walking and so on.

Aikido movements are not natural. You had been doing quite different movements all the time before you started Aikido, so your body needs a time to become familiar with Aikido movements. You should stress on correct form of movements. Adjust your pace to be able to do movements correctly, because correct form = healthy form. I know, it is not easy for beginners, but it is must.

About visit at the doctor. Good idea, but ensure that your sport doctor knows something about Aikido before he make decision.

By the way, I'm 30, and my knees and shoulders are pretty damaged from my previous 10 years Karate career. Sometimes my knees and shoulders hurts me very much, and it can be after really hard Aikido training but more often after friendly volleyball (football) game, tennis or even after innocent jogging or riding the bycicle.


08-22-2001, 04:25 AM
A bit hard to comment unless you tell me what is causing the pain in your shoulders and knees. Different dojos train differently but it is important that no-one is doing permanent damage to you and you are not doing permanent damage to yourself.

Injuries and pain from ukemi is common early on. It is very difficult to change this, as it is due to incorrect rolling. If this is the case, try to practise more ukemis - possibly from kneeling if you are loosing confidence in doing standing ukemi. It is important to get ukemis correct in order to prevent injury later.

Obviously muscular pain is not a problem unless you are tearing something. Sometimes senseis expect you to do a bit of warm up yourself - in such a case you must warm up the areas which tend to be affected.

Pain can also be caused by bad application/technique. If people are forcing painful techniques on you make sure they stop the moment you tap; or if they force them on too rapidly tell them to be more careful (if the problem persists tell the sensei; if he/she is not bothered consider joining a different club). Anyone experienced in aikido knows how easy it is to break someone's wrist, elbow or shoulder joints. Applying techniques in the dojo without control and restraint is dangerous and not at all educational for either party.

Also, sometimes incorrect body movement can cause pain/long term damage. This is especially prevalent with the knees. Make sure when you turn you body (e.g. tae-sebaki) it is your hip joint (which is a ball and socket) rather than your knee joint that is twisting. Otherwise the ligaments in the knee will become stretched, reducing support in the knee.

Kneeling techniques (suwari waza) often cause your legs to ache, but as long as it is not done for very extended periods it will not do any damage - it often takes a while for your joints to stretch (esp. hips) so that you can do this without it aching.

Hope this helps,

08-22-2001, 05:02 AM
Hi Jack,

Gosh, I hope that's not too old, I'm 44! ;)

Like everyone else, I'd say some aches and pains are normal. As a physician, I'd also say some are not. I'd recommend asking a senior student (doesn't have to be one with medical experience, but that's a bonus if there is one) what they'd suggest. They would be able to tell if your shoulders are sore from incorrect rolls, or from trying to muscle a technique, or from resisting a technique in the worng way (all three common errors for beginners, and even not-too-beginners). :rolleyes:

Same thing about your knees, from having your weight in the wrong place, to wrong falls, wrong posture, etc. They also can probably tell you what to do to help feel better while avoiding re-injury. :)

Good luck, hope you feel better.

Greg Jennings
08-22-2001, 06:20 AM
It's hard to say with only "my knees and shoulders hurt".

Muscular discomfort is one thing. It'll lessen and later as someone says just remind you that you're alive.

Joint pain is a different issue. It could be an indication of a problem.

Check your rolls to make sure you aren't planting your shoulder into the mat. That's a great way to separate a shoulder. It could be the source of your problem.

If you've been doing a lot of shikko, your knee pain could come from patela tendonitis. In that case, there is nothing to do but moderate your training.

At any rate, if you feel it's worth a trip to an orthopedic doctor, I'd say it's time to go. If for no other reason that peace of mind.

I'm 39 and I've been training pretty hard for around seven years. I ache _some_ after just about every class. I've been taking a glucosimine, chondrotin, MSM supplement. It might help some. The evidence is firming up that it prevents later onset of osteo arthiritis.

Best Regards,

08-22-2001, 08:42 AM
Hi all,

I should explain a little more.

The shoulder pain is from forward rolls, so I guess I need to practice more.

The knees are the real concern though. They only hurt when I do deep bends, like getting up from a fall or from the sitting position. I don't know if this normal or possibly the beginning of a problem. I didn't notice any pain for the first few weeks, but now I do. Maybe taking some time off will help, although I don't really want to.


08-22-2001, 09:40 AM

I love the topic. This is a great thing to discuss since the "deal with it" phrase may be tossed around at many dojos. My first dojo and the first dojo that I trained in was that way. I was training 5-6 days a week and taking tobi in 2 weeks. I would end a two hour session with the whole body aching and (later I found ) damaged. Taking Aikido at your own pace is the way to go in my eyes. In my current dojo we say if your knees are in too much pain to do zagi, then do the technique standing. The philosopy being that you are responsible for your own training and your own development as aikidoka. This means that you should monitor your own limits and at times try to stretch them. This also means that you should not sacrifice class time because of knee (or any ) pain that can be alleviated by doing standing technique instead of seated. My second point will be shorter. If you feel that you need a rest from the mat, still go to class. I have been sidelined by injury and I was able to learn almost as much by watching the techniques done by the class. I actually had a few Ah ha! moments in the week of watching.
Train Hard but throw soft!

08-22-2001, 03:26 PM
Originally posted by Jack
I'm very new to aikido and I must say that it really hurts me.

Am I too old for this training, I'm 47?

Hello Jack,
I'm very new to Aikido myself (this is my third month), and, if this can make you feel better, then know that the first few months REALLY hurt (bruises, sprains, you name it!)
But I've noticed that the more practice, the less pain (and colors on your wrists and shoulders!)
Gradually, you will feel less pain and you will see less bruises.
Of course, age has nothing to do with this. And plus, you're not old! ;-)
My sensei kinda made fun of me when I first complained about the pain and bruises. Here is how the conversation went:
'ickle Mona: "Sensei, I'm hurting all over, and look at my bruises..."
<sensei looks with a smirk>
sensei: "yeah..and?"
Mona: "uh...is this normal?"
<sensei shows me a tiny teeny weeny small bruise-dot on his shoulder>
sensei: "oh now look at that! Don't you think that hurts too?"
<Mona is speechless>
sensei: "oh you know maybe there is a 'magical' ointment you can use.."
Mona: "yeah? what is it called?"
sensei: "oh no wait...we got that special ointment from China when we used to train in the U.S., it was really effective. Oh, but it's not available here, sorry!...So I guess you'll have to do without."
Mona thinking: "Yeah, thanks, that helps."
sensei (in a different tone):" just put some ice on that, and forget about it. If all your training was to be comfortable, you wouldn't enjoy it, you wouldn't learn anything, and most of all, you wouldn't 'feel' anything, nor grow. Remember that...
And also practice your ukemi, it's not ALWAYS your partner's fault!"

I think the idea here is to stop being self-centered and attached to your body. What is important is feeding your soul with knowledge. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm philosophizing, but I think you got the point.


08-22-2001, 03:47 PM
Okay, I understand the "no pain, no gain" philosophy.

The question now is "has anyone here had the knee problems I mentioned?"

Is it usually caused by the constant bending (like old fashioned squats that have been proven to damage the knees)? I don't know, I was hoping people here had seen or experienced the same thing.

I don't think being concerned about damaging my knees is being self-centered.

Jorge Garcia
08-22-2001, 04:36 PM
My experience since I started in Aikdio has been that I have had some kind of pain almost all the time but never anything serious except for a back problem that I worked through a few years ago. Probably, only a doctor who has examined you could tell you what the problem is for sure. I personally would only have knee pains after an entire class in suwariwaza. I have also had pains in my forearms, wrists, every finger and both thumbs,my back, my sides, my shoulders, toes, feet, heels, thighs ,stomach muscles and neck. Anytime I'm hurting, I take from one to three days off and then I come back and work through it. Usually, it will go away. Some of those pains were minor injuries but others were just soreness from working a part not frequently used. I am 45 now and as I get older, I am having less pains than when I started and only an ocassional soreness from a particularly hard practice like we had last night. I think pain management is part of this art but see a doctor if you are really concerned.

Best regards,

08-22-2001, 05:05 PM
I'd still advise talking to a senior or your sensei, they can watch your rolls to see what has to be changed while practicing (if you just do more of the same rolls you did to get sore shoulders, you will have, in the end, sore shoulders).

The knee pain maybe be from a problem with the lining of your knee joint, but then you probably would have noticed it before: with running, sports, climbing stairs, sitting in seats (movie/airline) for extended periods. You are more likely putting your weight on it incorrectly (or if you are a bit heavy, that might do it by itself). If the senior/sensei does not see something obviously wrong in what you are doing, then see a physician. You may have to demonstrate to him, or show him pictures, or what exactly it is that hurts your knees.

I definately think pain is not to be worked through, especially joint pain, and you are not weak to be concerned. But not every pain means you must stop training altogether. I do think you should check with someone who knows before just quitting or sitting out, however, if you really want to train. Otherwise, 'something hurts' can become a very tempting reason to skip classes. Injuries often need some rest, but figure out what caused the injury, either through your sensei or your doctor, and as has been said, watch class even if you can't get on the mat.

08-23-2001, 01:57 AM
Hi Jack!

I'm thinking that at 47 years of age, it wouldn't hurt much to have a physical on a fairly regular basis anyways. I doubt very much that it was suggested before you started (some places do this). So, if you haven't had one, why not do it and mention the knee while you are at it. If you have good insurance, you could also get the knee checked out cheaply as well. Chances are, it's just a case of not being 23 but then again it may not be.

I would also mention it to your sensei. There are certain ways you could be moving that put the knee at risk. It can also be at risk when you get up from a fall which is where I've tweaked my knee more than once. A competent sensei should be able to help you in this. Of course, this assumes a competent sensei.

As to medical advice. The absolute LAST place you should even consider seeking medical advice is in a martial arts dojo. I've seen everything from ki healing, herbal medicine (mlm), dietary foo-foo and complete quackery dispensed inside a dojo. You would be as well served by visiting the Philipines and having them fake pulling goop from your stomach as you would trying some of the things I've seen suggested.

Aikidoist bend wrists, they are not medical doctors with very few exceptions. The likelihood that an Aikidoist will know what he/she is talking about when it comes to knees or anything else medical is virtually 0.

08-23-2001, 05:17 AM
Hi Jack,

as far as the knee pain goes - first follwo Colleen's advice about talking to your sensei and explaining the problem. If no problem is evident go and see a sports physio or doctor. I have had knee problems previously (from aikido but also from volleyball). Sometimes, especially if you haven't done much excercise recently, there can be ligament problems with your knee. There are excercises to build these up (and then the aikido may end up being beneficial rather than detrimental).

If you feel joint pain this early on I would definately do something about it. In my view pain definately has a part to play in psycholigcal conditioning - but anything that could cause long term or permanent injury must be avoided at all costs.


08-23-2001, 06:30 AM
You've recieved some great advice already, so I'll make this short...

Be sure to practice at the pace that is comfortable for you. This doesn't mean to go against the sensei's instructions, but rather if you need a break or can't do certain movements within harming yourself, ask to step aside for the time being.

Also, contrary to what was said earlier, I believe Aikido is very natural... although I do practice in the Kokikai system...


08-23-2001, 06:50 AM
If you do see a doctor, make sure he really understands the activity that is causing pain. After just a few weeks of Aikido we start taking terms for granted, and doctors are fairly bad at admitting they are unfamiliar with something (I can say that, being one :rolleyes: )

I was negotiating with my orthopaedic doc the time I'd have to sit out if he repaired my torn rotator cuff, and had at least won a minor victory on 'roll all you want' until he got suspecious (knowing me) and decided to ask. I did a couple of rolls down his hallway. He looked at me like I'd just run over his cat, and said 'no. absolutely not. no. no no no.'

George S. Ledyard
08-23-2001, 09:44 AM
Originally posted by Jack
Hi all,

I should explain a little more.

The shoulder pain is from forward rolls, so I guess I need to practice more.

The knees are the real concern though. They only hurt when I do deep bends, like getting up from a fall or from the sitting position. I don't know if this normal or possibly the beginning of a problem. I didn't notice any pain for the first few weeks, but now I do. Maybe taking some time off will help, although I don't really want to.

Sounds to me as if you should do what the football players do to keep ambulatory... weights. I would recommend that you do some serious conditioning on the legs if your knees are bothering you. The only thing that takes stress off the joints is building upo the muscles. You can do this by training diligently in Aikido itself but most people aren't training enough to build themselves up adequately if there's a problem. Find a way to do some serious leg conditioning off the mat and you may find the problem goes away.

mariko nakamura
08-23-2001, 09:59 AM
Helo Jack.
In our dojo we practice suwari waza every day and always sit in seiza. I have the same pains in my knees(I think) that you have described. I'll bet the next place is going to be the ankles. I also work as a carpenter here so everyday my knees take a pretty good beating. We have this stuff that called tiger balm and I know you can find it in the states. Its kind of like icy hot but its medicated for injuries like this. Usually when I wake up I put it on then I sit in seiza for awhile until my knees loosen up. During breaks and lunch I sit that way too.
Usually by the time practice comes it doesn't hurt so much. I'M sure you'll get used to it. But to be safe go to a S.T.
A regular doctor might give you different advice(You have to stay off it for 3 weeks then come back and see me)
Mick(Mariko is my wife)

08-23-2001, 01:17 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Paja
[B]Hi Jack,

Aikido movements are not natural.

I realize that this may have been an oversight, or not what you meant. However, I felt the need to correct this statement.

Aikido is, in every sense, natural. The word itself can be translated as being in harmony with nature.

Not trying to nitpick. I just thought since this was in answer to a question from a beginner...(granted, I've only been studying Aikido for a little over a year), I thought it prudent to clear that up.


08-23-2001, 10:24 PM
That's funny. I'm only 22 and I was having bad back problems before I started aikido. In fact in my first class I hurt it during the stretches. But after a month or two there wasn't any pain at any time.

Aikido has healed me! Thank ya Jesus! :)


08-23-2001, 11:55 PM
Originally posted by Kenn
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Paja
[B]Aikido is, in every sense, natural. The word itself can be translated as being in harmony with nature.

Not trying to nitpick.
Well I'll nitpick - Aikido does not contain any mention of the word nature.

We can have a lot of fun debating what is meant by harmonizing energy also but for the purposes of this thread.

The movements and body posture in Aikido are very natural and I would say that the more advanced you are the more that is obvious. However, many of the exercises and movements that you go through are not the most natural. Seiza is not something the body would naturally choose to do and neither is the infamous duck walk.

Natural or not - when your body uses muscles in ways that it is not used to it will hurt. As you get used to the movements your body will use those same muscles even more and therefore they will continue to hurt. In fact, as you advance new classes of muscle are being brought into the equation.

So my point - here pain is a sign of progress not damage. The same is true for joints but not always. The knee pain from seiza will go away as you get used to it however it might not hurt to check with professionals on hand.

08-24-2001, 01:54 AM
I didn't say that Aikido is not natural. It should be, otherwise it is not Aikido.

I said, Aikido movements are not very natural. They should become natural for practising Aikidoka, but at very beginning they are not. People has been doing quite different movements before they starts Aikido.
As children, we were learning how to stan up, then how to walk even if nobody teached it us (I know mostly someone did) - because it is natural. Unfortunatelly we weren't doing tenkans, tenkais and other Aikido at this time ;) .

On the other side, Aikidoka's behavior should be natural, and after "naturalizing" our movements our Aikido should be natural as whole.

BTW: Every good managed movements look very natural - ballet, dance, basketball, golf etc. etc. But it needs hard work to achieve this natural feeling and impression.


08-24-2001, 11:55 AM
Hey Jack!

I am a 5th kyu, and I began training in January of this year. I'm 25 years old and I have had the same knee pain as you have. So have several other beginners from my class that are in my same age group. I don't think it has anything to do with how old you are. I believe that part of my problem was that my quadricep was bigger than the muscles on my inner thigh, and that deep knee bends were causing the pain due to having an imbalance in muscle strength on either side of the knee. I have found swimming and antioxidants
help alot. I am almost completely pain free. Also, since ankles and hips are related to the knee, I've been making sure that I don't bend past my toes and I keep my nose aligned with my belly button. Hope that helps!

08-24-2001, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by PeterR

Well I'll nitpick - Aikido does not contain any mention of the word nature.

OK :-), if you're going to nitpick, I'm going ot nitpicl..lol.

I suppose it depends on how you define "Ki". Ki, as I understand it is universal energy, the source of all things, the causal force behind all things...etc. Would that not perfectly define nature?

Just my opinion, you are entitled to yours, no matter how wrong you may be....:-)

peace, Kenn

Gawad Adham
08-26-2001, 07:42 PM
Hi Jack,
as was said earlier it is hard to say what the problem is, however you have received quite a bit of good information already, all I canreally add, is that you may be over training. Before starting Aikido, were you active at all, in any kind of sport? if not I would recomend that you take it easy for a while, and may be lay off for a few days and see how you feel, it would also be a good idea to take less classes at first, 2 to 3 per week with at least a day rest between classes. this will give your body time to rest and adapt to the new stresses.
I am not a doctor but have been involved in Judo as a player and team strength coach, and eventually I drifted to Aikido about 12 years ago, I am also a personal trainer. If you do decide to see a doctor, I cannot stress enough that he be some how sport oriented.
good luck.

08-26-2001, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by Jack
The knees are the real concern though. They only hurt when I do deep bends, like getting up from a fall or from the sitting position. I don't know if this normal or possibly the beginning of a problem. I didn't notice any pain for the first few weeks, but now I do. Maybe taking some time off will help, although I don't really want to.

Thanks, [/B]

Hi John,

I've been practicing about a year and a half, and several months ago I developed some pretty nasty knee pain. Mostly on deep bends, like you said, it progressed to also hurt when I walked up or down stairs etc. I admit I waited to long to have it looked at.

I went to the doctor who diagnosed it. My muscles were developing unevenly, the muscles on the outside edge of my legs faster than the inside, and it was pulling the knee cap off kilter, which was inflaming the groove, which was hurting. They set me up in physical therapy, told me to ice it when it hurt. I took a break from aikido while going through physical therapy for about 4 weeks (only did weapons which doesn't have as many of the deep knee bends), because I'd let it get pretty bad. I'm still doing my exercises from PT, but back up to a full schedule of aikido pain free (for about 2 or 3 months now). No further problems.

So I guess my advice would be see someone who can give you more info.

Good luck,
Eve Peters-Campbell

Joy Johnson
08-26-2001, 11:06 PM
Hi Jack!

I've never written on a forum before, but I had to respond to your problem. I've been taking aikido for a little over a year, and had the exact same problem with my knees. They didn't hurt (much) at the beginning, but got worse as the weeks went by. They really hurt when getting up or down from a low sitting position. By the way, I'm older than you -- 50 now, but 49 when I started. A doctor friend told me to take an anti-inflamatory medication, such as Aleve, which helped somewhat. I saw that someone else mentioned taking MSM, which you can get at almost any store that sells vitamins. I had been taking 500 mg of MSM for awhile, but I am convinced that what "cured" my pain was taking 2000 mg of MSM a day. After I raised the dosage, it wasn't long until the pain disappeared. From what I remember, the pain had been getting worse over a period of three or four months (can't remember -- another sign of aging??) Of course, I also had shoulder pain, neck pain, and various other problems, but that was from doing the rolls and other techniques incorrectly. I'm still far from doing everything right, but for the most part it doesn't hurt! So I would encourage you to at least try taking MSM before giving up on aikido. I've read that it works better if you take vitamin C along with it. A friend of mine had trouble sleeping when she took it at night, so you might want to take it in the morning or middle of the day. I hope this helps!


08-27-2001, 08:04 PM
Thanks everyone! Your advice has been very, very helpful.

I'l be seeing my doctor soon and hopefully will find out exactly what the problem is.

As to the supplements, I know what glusosomine is, but what is MSM? What are good excersises for the inner thigh (horseriding?).

Joy Johnson
08-29-2001, 12:19 PM
Hi Jack,

I'll quote what it says on the back of the bottle: "Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organic source of sulfur, one of the major building blocks of glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans are key structural componets in cartilage and play an inportant role in the maintenance of joint cartilage." A friend has a book ("MSM, the Natural Pain Relief Remedy" by Deborah Mitchell) which says, "MSM is a nutrient -- a specific type of dietary sulfur that our bodies require in our diet to perform their esstial functions. It's not a drug. Instead, it functions as part of a complex symphony of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that work together to facilitate virtually every bodily process you can imagine, from circulation to digestions, infection-fighting to wound healing....It's a water-soluble compound that's found in all living things on Earth: plants, animals, fish, even algae."

I first heard about it as a remedy for arthritis; I've heard of some people that it's taken away the pain completely. The book suggests trying from 2000 to 5000 mg a day for pain, and then reducing the dosage as needed. My knees were hurting more and more until I went up to 2000 mg. I just wanted to write about it, because most people haven't heard of it. I hope this helps!

Joy :)

08-29-2001, 01:53 PM
Just as a quick counterpoint:


While I don't endorse any side of the issue, I think it's important to at least see them :)


08-29-2001, 07:55 PM
Placebos have been proven to be very effective in clinical studies.

Like they say, belief kills and belief cures. (Who are they anyway?)


08-30-2001, 11:10 AM
Placebos have been proven to be very effective in clinical studies.

Like they say, belief kills and belief cures. (Who are they anyway?)


Placebos have been proven to be very effective in clinical studies.

Like they say, belief kills and belief cures. (Who are they anyway?)


And here I was about to run out and look for this MSM thing to cure my knees. Maybe If I believe in my heart of hearts, they will not give way ? (who they hell do they think they are anyway?)