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Cass
02-18-2017, 05:22 PM
So lately suwari waza and hanmi handachi waza have become more prevalent in my training sessions and so I am seeking advice on the best way to physically prepare for these waza. A few months prior I had severe knee pain (doctor believed torn meniscus) that took me off the tatami for 3 weeks, which happened around the time we first started learning shikko walking and doing seated techniques. So clearly at least one off my knees is quite susceptible to injury in these waza and after today's training the same point started to twinge again so I really want to avoid reliving that experience. And in general sustaining this kind of training for more than a few techniques tends to have my knees and in particular the arches of my feet screaming very quickly. Are there any particular stretches or exercises that anyone else has found useful in this case?

Riai Maori
02-18-2017, 06:06 PM
Volley Ball knee pads do the trick for me.:D They will also give you a bit of elevation to relief pressure on your ankle arches.

rugwithlegs
02-18-2017, 08:01 PM
The torsion in the knee comes from the ankle and the top of the foot not being in line with the knee cap. Move slowly. Don't try to get long strides in, move for stability. Toe injuries will lead to knee injuries.

Hip flexibility is what decides much of how wide your stride can go. Otherwise, almost always 90 degrees or less.

Ultimately, I do not really know enough about how to do this in a healthy fashion beyond doing the movements very slowly, as correctly as possible, and sparingly. As a kyu level I did push through marathon sessions. For most of my senior tests, ten minutes with a partner tops. If there had been a lot of knee work prior, I skipped it. I did lots of impact free cardio when my knees got too sore to run. I did the specialty exercises I was shown. I still had meniscus repairs three times and my toes have hallitus rigidus.

The old times samurai armor seemed to have very solid knee protection. That's a great place to start, but no amount of padding will protect your knee if the ankle rolls while the knee is locked.

Good luck

Janet Rosen
02-18-2017, 10:06 PM
Worse case scenario: If you actually did tear a meniscus it will NOT heal in three weeks, it takes at least 6-8 weeks. If your doctor thinks you are at higher risk than some for knee injury, there is no reason to do suwariwaza. Period. Many of us simply do standing technique instead and are exempt from testing on suwariwaza due to disability or chronic issues; your doctor feeling you may be at risk should be also a valid reason.
Best case scenario: slowly condition your feet including Achilles tendon (which connects directly with the plantar fascia of the arch) with stretching over small hard ball like a handball ball. Focus on alignment the way John mentions above. Don't tough through long sessions - you are in this for the long haul so give your body a chance to adjust and you will prevent the slow accretion of tiny injuries that becomes chronic.

Cass
02-19-2017, 04:11 AM
Sorry I feel I should clarify a little bit on the knee as I was a bit brief about that experience. I had gradually increasing pain for about a month before I actually went to see the orthopedist, who made the meniscus judgement after a thorough exam (though he emphasised minor tear) and gave me a physical therapy regime, a soft cast, anti-inflammation pills and gel and told me to stay off the mat "at least a week". So I stayed off a week and then jumped back to it, I lasted one week before the pain became too much again and I took a 2-weeks break to give it more time to heal. I returned and had only light pain for about 2 weeks before it faded completely. That being said though, I saw a Rheumatologist because I was anxious about Psoriatic Arthritis at the time and when she assessed the knee (I had just returned after the 2 weeks) she said it almost certainly wasn't a meniscus tear and it wasn't PsA either, but offered no solution on what she thought it was, other than to tell me that my patella are a bit naturally misaligned which can cause susceptibility to problems. That being said, I think early on my form for general techniques was also bad and torquing the knee too much, which has improved.

The knee pads are not a bad idea, one of the yudansha that I am closer to told me how he sewed some pads into his gi trousers specifically for suwari waza and strongly advised I do the same. I did try wearing a kind of knee compression/wrap/brace type thing for a while around the time I hurt my knee and didn't notice much change, maybe even a slight worsening of the pain and some discomfort due to being constricted. Sewing the pads in could be the solution, but I am worried about them being hard and uncomfortable.

Slow moves are absolutely my weakness and knowing that going quickly may be the cause of more problems is very useful. I tend to try to speed up every technique to use the sheer momentum to my advantage (and because I believe that fluid and fast is the best kind of technique) but if that will work against me, I will have to be more careful.

Janet, I will give the ball stretch a go, do you mean though to have the ball beneath the arch or along the achilles? Do I stand or lie? I suppose a tennis ball type thing will suffice also? The extensor tendons also feel discomfort after these sort of techniques but I suppose those will just come in time - much like wearing heels to a certain extent!

fatebass21
02-19-2017, 11:19 AM
You should look at cross training at home with some basic tai chi or gi gong. This will
Strengthen knees and hips while enhancing breathing and keeping your center. All good things in support of aikido

NagaBaba
02-19-2017, 07:30 PM
You can find a competent physiotherapist ask him for a plan of exercises for your knees to reinforce muscles and do it regularly twice a week in the gym. Like next 5 years....

Janet Rosen
02-20-2017, 01:25 PM
The knee pads are not a bad idea, one of the yudansha that I am closer to told me how he sewed some pads into his gi trousers specifically for suwari waza and strongly advised I do the same. I did try wearing a kind of knee compression/wrap/brace type thing for a while around the time I hurt my knee and didn't notice much change, maybe even a slight worsening of the pain and some discomfort due to being constricted. Sewing the pads in could be the solution, but I am worried about them being hard and uncomfortable.
Janet, I will give the ball stretch a go, do you mean though to have the ball beneath the arch or along the achilles? Do I stand or lie? I suppose a tennis ball type thing will suffice also? The extensor tendons also feel discomfort after these sort of techniques but I suppose those will just come in time - much like wearing heels to a certain extent!

1. I did a The Mirror column MANY years ago here that explained how to make the sewn in quilted kneepads out of Pellon fleece. It is like pivoting on potholders and rocks. I will try to find the link. and post.

2. Sorry for lack of clarity. Sit on couch or chair, ball on floor, and run your sole over it. Let foot stretch and flex, go in both longways and crossways directions. Some docs and PTs also recommend using small "dixie cups" (waxed paper drinking cups) to make ice that you can do massage to arches with, tearing away the cup as the ice melts and it recedes. I use rarely, prefering the ball. If you are not having pain doing the ball while seated, you can increase pressure by using it standing.

Janet Rosen
02-20-2017, 01:28 PM
Here is the column that includes concise instructions for the sewn in pads....sheesh we've been writing these a long time....
http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/themirror/2005_11.html

Michael Hackett
02-20-2017, 07:46 PM
Ms. Heatley,

I think you are dealing with two issues. The first, doing suwari waza or hamni handachi, is difficult for most of us westerners. You can make life easier with knee pads and doing a little knee work each class for a few minutes. The second issue seems as if you might have an injury to a knee and that is an entirely different issue. A torn meniscus takes quite some time to heal or requires surgery to repair. Your physician will strongly recommend staying off your knees for a considerable period of time and hopefully your Sensei will allow you to remain standing until you are fine. But the bottom line to that is that no pad in the world will solve the problem of an actual internal knee injury.

If you do have an injury, show your doctor a video of aikido knee work so he fully understands what we do and then he will likely help you get back into the swing of things. In any event, good luck!