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Old 10-24-2018, 09:53 AM   #1
langenoir
Join Date: Nov 2015
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New pain from bokken practice.

Hello,

I've been doing Aikido for about 4 years, I'm 39, and I have recently started having a pain in my back during bokken practice. We have two sessions a week of only weapons that I attend which last about an hour, 15 min break, then we have about one hour and twenty minutes of open hand practice. I also attend a Friday class which is about an hour and sometimes has some beginners bokken in it. I've been keeping this schedule for a couple years now with little to no issues. For the last month or two, I've felt a pain in my back like someone was stabbing me with a knife. It starts out dull and then grows sharper as class goes on. it only happens during weapons. Usually, by the time open hand practice starts, it is a dull pain or has mostly gone away.

I've gone to the massage therapist and had it worked on. It keeps coming back up. I'm trying to stretch it before class. Are there some core exercises that might help this? Maybe doing some suburi with my iaito daily? I'm at a loss.

If you look at this picture, the pain is on the left side, right about where Latissimus Dorsi meets the Trapezius.

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Old 10-24-2018, 09:56 AM   #2
langenoir
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Also if it makes any difference I did Karate and Kendo when I was younger for about 7 years. But I don't think this is related to any injury I still have from back then.
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Old 10-24-2018, 03:34 PM   #3
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

switch grips to the other side and do more suburi on that side. muscle development imbalance. and relax your hips and legs. let them do the work instead of your upper back.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 10-24-2018, 04:58 PM   #4
Robert Cowham
Dojo: East Sheen Aikido and Kashima No Tachi
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

If you're feeling brave, post a video of your bokken practice for comment as to what might be contributing. Lower exposure route is to still do video but get comments in real life from people you trust!
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:34 PM   #5
langenoir
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Those are great ideas. Thank you guys.
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:40 PM   #6
mathewjgano
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
switch grips to the other side and do more suburi on that side. muscle development imbalance. and relax your hips and legs. let them do the work instead of your upper back.
+1 Good luck!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 10-25-2018, 08:36 AM   #7
jurasketu
Dojo: Roswell Budokan
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Injuries can be from overuse, degeneration (nerve/skeletal) or a strain. A proper diagnosis from a competent sports medicine doctor is usually worthwhile.

Once you know the nature of the injury/problem, you can decide on a rational treatment plan - rest (always worth a try), rehab, anti-inflammatories and/or adjustment of technique if the injury is degenerative or otherwise permanent (those accumulate over time with age... it sucks... trust me...)

Continuing to train against acute pain isn't generally a good idea.

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
AWA - Nidan - Started Aikido training in 2008
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Old 10-25-2018, 02:41 PM   #8
dps
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

I agree with Robin. Go to a sports a doctor and get checked out. At worst it could be a problem with a spinal disc and needs to be caught before tit gets worse.

dps

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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Old 10-29-2018, 09:04 AM   #9
Derek
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

I agree get it checked out!

In the meantime, two thoughts

I've had occasional subluxation of a rib head that sounds a bit like what you're going through. You can access the area for your self with a tennis ball. Lay on top of it and roll the ball into position on your back so you can put pressure on that spot which can help. I prefer to use my TheraCane to access those areas. Love my TheraCane!

Finally, while you are diagnosing/healing/fixing the area in question, consider changing to a lighter bokken like a yagyu ryu bokken.

If that doesn't work, I've got a four letter word for you ……………… Rest.

Derek Duval
Godan
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:25 AM   #10
jamesf
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

I'm about your age and only have a couple years on you, training-wise. By your description, I'm pretty sure I used to get those same exact aches and stabbing pain all the time during bokken practice. My sensei eventually corrected me (actually, I think he probably tried correcting me many times, but it took a while to finally set in through my thick skull ) that I was holding my bokken too far away from my body in chudan- and seigan-kamae. Once I finally corrected that, the pains mostly went away. On the occasion that the pains set in again, I usually realize I'm slipping into my old bad habit and I correct it before it gets worse.

Conceptually, if you have a weight (the bokken) extended too far at the end of a lever arm (your arms), your back muscles will work extra hard to keep your body from tilting forward, but if you keep the weight closer (typically around a fist-width between the abdomen and the base of the tsuka "hilt"), you won't tilt so much and your back muscles can stay reasonably relaxed.

Finally, like Phi Truong already stated, doing some left-handed suburi will also help in recovery, just to balance things back out for a bit.
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:53 PM   #11
mathewjgano
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
James Frankiewicz wrote: View Post
I'm about your age and only have a couple years on you, training-wise. By your description, I'm pretty sure I used to get those same exact aches and stabbing pain all the time during bokken practice. My sensei eventually corrected me (actually, I think he probably tried correcting me many times, but it took a while to finally set in through my thick skull ) that I was holding my bokken too far away from my body in chudan- and seigan-kamae. Once I finally corrected that, the pains mostly went away. On the occasion that the pains set in again, I usually realize I'm slipping into my old bad habit and I correct it before it gets worse.

Conceptually, if you have a weight (the bokken) extended too far at the end of a lever arm (your arms), your back muscles will work extra hard to keep your body from tilting forward, but if you keep the weight closer (typically around a fist-width between the abdomen and the base of the tsuka "hilt"), you won't tilt so much and your back muscles can stay reasonably relaxed.

Finally, like Phi Truong already stated, doing some left-handed suburi will also help in recovery, just to balance things back out for a bit.
If it's bad enough, always see a doctor. That said, I've seen a number of doctors over the years for a number of physical ailments similar to the description, and mostly they've recommended anti-inflammatories and rest. I have personally found a modified activity to be better than rest most of the time. In running, this translated as changing my gait and utilizing a slightly different set of muscles. In aikido it has translated into doing a switched grip and emphasizing less "forcing." I have a reoccurring pain in my sternum which I believe is related to forcing my left side down too much during suburi and aikido practice with bokuto; also related, I believe to my jo practice, which uses a switch hand position, but one which places my left side low and my right side wound up and high. Altogether it seems to have created an imbalance for me; and one which seems to be improved when I simply practice in the opposite manner, and when I practice the standard positions with greater relaxation, seeking a kind of "shizentai" (natural/balanced) body relationship. I use quotes because I wouldn't be surprised if my sense of shizentai isn't exactly correct or standard. This is how I think of it.
That all said, and while I agree with what you're saying about cutting closer to the body, I think I also see a value to practicing a cut which is slightly more extended away from the body and trying to translate that weight and momentum down into the center and legs more (rather than my back, or where ever else I'm feeling it). Slow movement seems to make this an easier exercise. So while I love the sound of the "whoosh" when I cut faster, when I cut slowly and seek to put the pressure deeper toward the center, it feels better and more productive. Where I feel strain I relax and see what I can find in the process, which usually means readjusting some other part and then readjusting again, and so on. I also have been enjoying the feeling of extending out the rear leg as a counterbalance to the weight of the extended bokuto. Makes for an interestingly centered feeling, and is fun to play around with at any rate...uh, your mileage may vary.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 11-10-2018 at 07:08 PM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:51 AM   #12
dps
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
Phil Johnston wrote: View Post
Hello,

I've been doing Aikido for about 4 years, I'm 39, and I have recently started having a pain in my back during bokken practice. We have two sessions a week of only weapons that I attend which last about an hour, 15 min break, then we have about one hour and twenty minutes of open hand practice. I also attend a Friday class which is about an hour and sometimes has some beginners bokken in it. I've been keeping this schedule for a couple years now with little to no issues. For the last month or two, I've felt a pain in my back like someone was stabbing me with a knife. It starts out dull and then grows sharper as class goes on. it only happens during weapons. Usually, by the time open hand practice starts, it is a dull pain or has mostly gone away.

I've gone to the massage therapist and had it worked on. It keeps coming back up. I'm trying to stretch it before class. Are there some core exercises that might help this? Maybe doing some suburi with my iaito daily? I'm at a loss.

If you look at this picture, the pain is on the left side, right about where Latissimus Dorsi meets the Trapezius.

At 35 you were at the dusk of your youth and at 39 the cusp of old age.

Around 40 years you will notice changes physically in how your body operates. While at this age you can still do the work the recovery time is longer. You may not be giving your body enough recovery time between workouts. Generally you need 72 hours of rest between workouts. Increase the time between practicing, reduce the number of practices per week.

dps

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:28 AM   #13
Walter Martindale
Location: Edmonton, AB
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
At 35 you were at the dusk of your youth and at 39 the cusp of old age.

Around 40 years you will notice changes physically in how your body operates. While at this age you can still do the work the recovery time is longer. You may not be giving your body enough recovery time between workouts. Generally you need 72 hours of rest between workouts. Increase the time between practicing, reduce the number of practices per week.

dps
I guess the retired teacher down the street who rows EVERY DAY about 15 km (75-90 min) in summer and x-c skis all winter has it wrong...

When I was in my late 50s I was practicing aikido 4/week, and cycling up and down a river bank yelling at kids who were rowing (aka coaching). Body only started breaking down when I stopped doing all the workouts.

OP needs to find out what's causing the pain, rest and rehab til it's not causing pain any more, and work back up to regular workouts. There's a book called "Fast after 50" - worth a read. True - recovery from higher intensity sessions is longer, but if the OP gets the injury mechanism sorted out it should be possible to "train" daily. In my periodized training plans, there is some endurance work every day, but the VERY intense strength workouts are 1-2 per week because it does take time to recover.
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:30 AM   #14
Walter Martindale
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
Phil Johnston wrote: View Post
Those are great ideas. Thank you guys.
Is there a sports medicine clinic near where you train?
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Old 11-11-2018, 02:55 PM   #15
dps
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I guess the retired teacher down the street who rows EVERY DAY about 15 km (75-90 min) in summer and x-c skis all winter has it wrong...

When I was in my late 50s I was practicing aikido 4/week, and cycling up and down a river bank yelling at kids who were rowing (aka coaching). Body only started breaking down when I stopped doing all the workouts.

OP needs to find out what's causing the pain, rest and rehab til it's not causing pain any more, and work back up to regular workouts. There's a book called "Fast after 50" - worth a read. True - recovery from higher intensity sessions is longer, but if the OP gets the injury mechanism sorted out it should be possible to "train" daily. In my periodized training plans, there is some endurance work every day, but the VERY intense strength workouts are 1-2 per week because it does take time to recover.
Everybody's body is different. Genetics, lifestyle, nutrition all contribute to how your body reacts to aging. Not saying he is unable to continue but might need to adapt to changes in his body' due to aging.

dps

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events not of words. Trust movement. --Alfred Adler
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:07 PM   #16
mathewjgano
 
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

In my meager opinion it's all about the rehab...and rehab isn't rest.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:05 PM   #17
jamesf
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Re: New pain from bokken practice.

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
That all said, and while I agree with what you're saying about cutting closer to the body,
Just as a clarification, when I mentioned holding the bokken closer, I didn't really mean so much as during cutting itself, but during more-static, ready positions (between cuts or during the "stand off") or when doing a soft-receive of shomenuchi (rather than block or parry) while moving to the rear: a lot of beginners stretch forward too far forward with their bokkens as if to gain more distance as if to (subconciously) hold-off the attacking partner.
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