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Old 08-22-2006, 10:26 PM   #1
Apoy
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Australia
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Bad knees

It could be suwariwaza it could be hamni handachi or just plain seiza. All I know and noticed is majority of the yudansha have a problem with their knees. A few knee surgical stories and knee reconstruction have been reported in our organisation.

Aikido is suppose to make our Joints stronger. So why is it destroying or negatively affecting one of the most important joints in the body?

I have resorted to knee pads of all sorts. They can be quite annoying on a sticky and sweaty summers day especially if you are on your knees doing techniques. However if they save my knees I'll wear them. I'm in my 30's and if God permits I would still need my knees for another 40+ years.

If you have any experience on knee care, how to mend knee injuries, or how to avoid them please kindly share your valuable two cents. It may save a young aikidoka's knees somewhere.
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:36 AM   #2
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
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Re: Bad knees

This will probably start a fight, but the best single thing you can do to strenghten the knees is the weighted Back Squat. Done properly, it is also the single best exercise to prevent osteoperosis and back injury. Done improperly, it can be the worst enemy of all the above, so you must do them properly. How to productively add them to your overall routine if you are unwilling to reduce Aikido training loads during strength building can also be an issue.

Suwariwaza and hamni handachi are by far the worst Aikido activities for the knees. It involves twisting and pressures on the knee that are much more likely to damage it than what is involved with falling or throwing. Anything you can do to spend less time knee-walking will probably help increase your knees' useful life.
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Old 08-23-2006, 01:11 AM   #3
Apoy
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Re: Bad knees

I think that is the irony. Suwariwaza is necessary for a good hip. However a good hip without the aid of good knees equals less mobility to the person.

I also started taking these tabs that enhances the synovial fluid secretion, viscosity, and fluidity. I take it as a prophylactic. I am taking it but I am not really sure if it works, because I could not really measure it, see it, or touch it. My knees are still clicking. But I must admit it seems like it's clicking less.

Also I wonder what are the stats on the relation between athritis and aikido?
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Old 08-23-2006, 01:17 AM   #4
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
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Re: Bad knees

I've surmised based on experience, seiza when you're fat is a sure way to kill your knees. nah. Just being fat is enough.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 08-23-2006, 05:36 AM   #5
dps
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote:
. Just being fat is enough.
HEY!!! I resemble that remark.
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:08 AM   #6
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Bad knees

Ice, Ibuprofen, perhaps glucosamine/chondroiten supplements, and take a good look at the alignment in your legs, and whether you're over extending your stance, something I'm guilty of. Most definitely warm them up before the class warmup; some teachers don't warmup the knees as much as I need.

Before class I'll take a seat on the mat, legs out, and I raise each leg at the knee, leaving the foot down, and drop the knee, not slam it. For particulars unbeknownst to me, this seems to loosen them up pretty well. I then give a light to moderate clapping sort of massage to the region. I imagine it is the stirring/loosening up of fluids, plus increased circulation, but I'm no pro.

As for ice, consider durable reusable cold packs, something that you can put on your knees at bedtime, rollover in the middle of the night without popping, and put back in the freezer each morning. The more convenient and hassle free you can make this, the more easy a habit it will be to make.

Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:28 AM   #7
DonMagee
Location: Indiana
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Re: Bad knees

A proper warm up and cool down will also help in the long run. Sadly I do not see enough people warm up, and cool down properly when undertaking any atheltic function.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:44 AM   #8
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: Bad knees

Back in the day, there was an article in Aikido Today Journal that pointed out that ibuprofen actually damages joints in the long run. So sometimes the short run and the long run aren't really friends.

In gassho,
Mark
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:13 AM   #9
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
So sometimes the short run and the long run aren't really friends.
this is true for many more things than just knees

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:28 AM   #10
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Bad knees

I will have to look into that. I was never a fan of tylenol, and a few years ago a study came out based on 10 years of data on its users of different levels. It didn't look good. I haven't seen much regarding ibuprofen, have looked, but will have to look harder. Thanks.

michael.
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:37 AM   #11
Brad Pruitt
Dojo: High Desert Aikido
Location: Bend, Oregon
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Re: Bad knees

I take a straight glucosamine sulfate and it really does work. You need to give it a few weeks to start working but then after that it makes all the difference for me. I take the straight glucosamine because the condroitin makes me a little jittery. It's definitely worth trying.
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:01 AM   #12
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
Back in the day, there was an article in Aikido Today Journal that pointed out that ibuprofen actually damages joints in the long run. So sometimes the short run and the long run aren't really friends.

In gassho,
Mark
I would be interested in a citation on that. I have never heard of joint damage as a direct effect of NSAIDS. Net searches turn up nothing. Now, if you take ibuprofen for the purpose of continuing to train through pain that you otherwise wouldn't, that's a different story. There, it's not the drug that's damaging the joint, it's you. This would be considered a misuse or abuse of the drug by many doctors and therapists. Of course, it happens all the time in sports, because they care a lot more about winning than their geriatric futures.

The primary problematic side efffects of NSAIDS are stomach irritation and disruption of the clotting capabilities of blood platelets.
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:13 AM   #13
Mark Gibbons
Location: Seattle, WA
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Re: Bad knees

[quote=Kevin Wilbanks]I...it happens all the time in sports, ...QUOTE] Happens a lot in Aikido also. Especially the month before a test. Now where did I put my vitamin I?

Regards,
Mark
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:49 AM   #14
Jeremy Hulley
Dojo: Seattle School of Aikido Shinto Ryu/Seattle Icho Ryu
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Re: Bad knees

Don't ground int the back knee and turn your hips at the same time. It causes lots of torque in the knee.

Jeremy Hulley
Shinto Ryu Iai Battojutsu
Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club
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Old 08-23-2006, 04:26 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: Bad knees

couple of thoughts.
first of all, any regimen that requires ice and anti-inflammatories cannot be a long-term healthy one, can it?
second of all, activity for avoiding knee injury would focus on core strength and plyometric exercises (off the mat), applying the principles learned there on the mat as one moves.
"mending knee injuries"--depends on what has been injured. But soft tissue needs 6 to 8 wks minimum to heal, and reinjury in that time is easy and resets the clock to zero while adding new injury to surrounding tissue making i tmore likely to develop into a chronic injury.
On the basis of yrs of observation/anecdote, not on the basis of research, I do suspect it is widespread failures by practitioners to adequately rest/heal/rehab that has contributed more to chronic knee problems in aikido than any specific acute injury.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-23-2006, 04:56 PM   #16
RoyK
Dojo: Nishin Kan
Location: Herzliya
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Israel
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Re: Bad knees

No comments on knee pads? I too would like to hear experienced people's perspective on that.

Thanks
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Old 08-23-2006, 05:36 PM   #17
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Roy Klein wrote:
No comments on knee pads? I too would like to hear experienced people's perspective on that.

Thanks
Not good at all. It makes you grounded even more deep into the mat and restrick mobility, so you can't easily shift you weight to avoid too much tension in the knee.

I think Janet is right; most of us are far too enthusiastic to adequately rest/heal/rehab small injuries.
Presently I do max one technique on the knees per class, and it gives good results. Even IF??? it slows down my progress, I have still good knees!

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 08-23-2006, 05:40 PM   #18
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: Bad knees

I wore a knee brace for a few years until i figured it out that I was keeping my knee from getting stronger. I have not worn one since. I also wore an elbow/arm brace for awhile but needed to get rid of it so that my arm could get strong again. Now I seem to know better.

In gassho,
Mark
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Old 08-23-2006, 05:58 PM   #19
Yo-Jimbo
Dojo: formerly Windward Aikido, formerly at Keewenaw Schools of Aikido (ASU)
Location: Formerly Hawaii Pacific University, formerly at Michigan Technological University
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Re: Bad knees

I'm concerned about the causal vs correlative relationship between aikido practice and knee damage.
Both my brother and I have recent injuries to the medial/anterior of our right knee's meniscus.
Both of us practice aikido, but...
both of us have the same parents,
play softball and other sports,
are currently slightly heavy (~220# +/- 5# @6'1" +/- 1"),
are of similar age (~31yrs +/- 2.5yrs).
I'm older and my injury is was just barely bad enough to require surgery. I think that we were both fortunate that it wasn't worse.

My point is that I wonder:
If our knees are better or worse due to aikido practice?
If your typical aikido practitioner has better or worse knees then the general population?
If some aspect of typical aikido practice is good or bad for knees?

Two thirds of those polled in:
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=93
believed that knee-walking and suwariwaza in aikido were not bad for you in the long run.
Just over half say:
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=27
that they have had some form of knee problems due to aikido practice.
I admit that I'm to lazy to research a comparison to other activities right at this moment.
I'm wondering if constantly using the right leg to get up from seiza is a culprit (or for me, just high speed rounding the bases and sliding into third).

I'd like to see the following poll (what do you think, Jun?):
My:
a) knees are fine; I do aikido.
b) left knee is worse; I do aikido.
c) right knee is worse; I do aikido.
d) knees are equally bad; I do aikido.
e) knees are fine; I don't do aikido.
f) left knee is worse; I don't do aikido.
g) right knee is worse; I don't do aikido.
h) knees are equally bad; I don't do aikido.

With ~200 - 500 answering the polls that do aikido, I think there can be even some discrimination toward a preference in the knee that is most likely damaged.
The most important thing to watch in the lurkers that don't do aikido is whether there is a big difference in their knee health. I doubt that there will be enough respondents in this area for good results; but if the poll is done, I pledge to look up some statistics on the general population and knee health (unless someone beats me to it, MDs).

This would shed some light on whether there is at least a correlation between aikidojin and bad knees; or if to the contrary, aikidojin have better knees on average. Of course, aikiweb polls aren't conducted scientifically, but within whatever biases there are in the readership it would be nice to know. There would still be the question of causation, but that would require some controlled tests.

Meniscus typically gets less pliable with age. Note people's advise on knee care (supplements and proper exercises). Don't ignore clicking or swelling in the knee, by the time there is pain in an area with so few nerves, things are probably worse.

"One does not find wisdom in another's words." -James D. Chye
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:48 PM   #20
Apoy
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Australia
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Re: Bad knees

The Knee pads that I use has a gap on the back of the Knee. This is good because in suwari waza & seiza we sit down fully with our foot and toes flat on the mat. This type of knee pads actually give good room for the fold of the back knee. I've tried other knee pads eg Judo knee pads and they do not leave enough slack on the back for a folded knee, the crease can rub and sting after a long use specially if get's hot and sweaty.

I also found that mats can make a big difference. Mats that have a dove tail joint on its sides and have a same rubber texture as thongs/flip flops has a very good grip on it. I've noticed that I hop with my knees on these ones rather than slide and glide through them. They are really hard to do suwari waza, shiko, and hamni handachi on. There are a few times that I can really feel my knee caps twisting on these hard core mats. Mats that are made of shredded foam with a tarpauline cover on is friendlier to the knees due to less friction. This is the same with Vynil covered mats. I've noticed that Tatami mats are in between the rubber mats and the tarp/vynil mats on the account of friction and resistance.

Having said that I wonder how are the knees of aiki and ju practioners that do suwari waza on grass, sand, wooden floor, or... concrete.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:16 PM   #21
Carol Shifflett
Location: PA
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
I was never a fan of tylenol, and a few years ago a study came out based on 10 years of data on its users of different levels. It didn't look good. I haven't seen much regarding ibuprofen, have looked, but will have to look harder.
Look for kidney failure. And rather than joints + ibuprofen, might search on bone instead. I have an uncredited reference that states: There is no new bone growth in the presence of ibuprofen." An article on NSAIDs in the June 1999 New England Journal of Medicine states:

"It has been estimated conservatively that 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis every year in the United States. This figure is similar to the number of deaths from . . . [AIDS]. . . If deaths from gastrointestinal toxic effects from NSAIDs were tabulated separately in the National Vital Statistics reports, these effects would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the United States. Yet these toxic effects remain mainly a "silent epidemic," with many physicians and most patients unaware of the magnitude of the problem. Furthermore the mortality statistics do not include deaths ascribed to the use of over-the-counter NSAIDS."

I have sat at table with muscle-weary fellow martial artists who passed around a bottle of "Vitamin I" or Tylenol with the beer and whisky. There even seemed to be a faint implication that the greater the number of tablets you washed down with your beer the greater the pain you were suffering, ergo the greater your dedication as a Martial Artist soldiering bravely on despite Pain and Adversity. We might want to compare the level of pain and adversity involved in needing to rest and repair sore knees vs. needing dialysis or a liver transplant.

Alcohol w/ acetaminophen (Tylenol and others even at recommended dosages) activates enzymes that transform acetaminophen into liver-damaging chemicals. Nor is the danger limited to regular drinkers; an isolated binge will do the job if mixed with acetaminophen for the resulting hangover. The precise dose that upgrades the situation from "merely dangerous" to "deadly" varies from person to person. Severe liver damage may occur after taking as few as 8 extra-strength caplets (4 g) over a period of 24 hours — and combining this with alcohol. It is best to simply avoid the combination entirely.

Personally, I suspect that any training that requires regular applications of NSAIDS and continuous daily icing falls further into the category of "abuse" than it does "training." It is hurting more than it's helping.

Carol Shifflett
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:36 PM   #22
Apoy
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Australia
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Re: Bad knees

That is impressive Carol.

Do we have any information/study on aikido practitioners and the ailments they suffer from the practice of the art?
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:21 PM   #23
Princess Rose
 
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Re: Bad knees

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote:
take a good look at the alignment in your legs
Couldn't put it better myself!
That is possibly the best thing you can do for yourself regarding any part of your body. When I was 14 I dislocated my kneecap while taking a particularly tricky pirouette in ballet class (that was the longest month of my life. I remember coming to Aikido to watch with a very sad look on my face). That is what led me to start taking Pilates lesions. The major concept is to work on aligning your body so that it works the way it was intended. You have to constantly watch your knees to make sure you are not bending past a 90-degree angle or beyond your toes. This is also applied all over the body alleviating sore lower backs, necks, bad posture, tense shoulders… you name it. It has been 4 years since I hurt my knee and started taking Pilates. This system of taking care of your body has since become second nature to me. Four years ago I was having trouble with seza and knee walking but now I have no problem.

Another idea to help your knees is to adapt a new style of ukemi. Many dojos practice this already, but in mine we are just beginning to learn what we call Donovan Weight ukemi. According to my teachers, it saves your knees a lot more than our traditional style.

And yes I did wear a knee brace for almost two years (I was so embarrassed by it). It was just a soft brace with a foam circle around it. It helped me keep my kneecaps from moving during Aikido class. I only stopped wearing one after I became good enough at the Pilates method to allow my own muscles to hold my knees in place. I would recommend wearing a brace for a quick relief of knee problems, but Pilates is a long-term training that will yield great results.

Good luck to everyone with those nasty knee problems
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:25 AM   #24
Apoy
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Australia
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Re: Bad knees

Also I do not have hairs on my knees anymore...

I am not sure if that is good thing

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Old 08-24-2006, 02:44 AM   #25
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: Bad knees

Rosemary,

It's 'Donovan Waite'. My understanding is that he is the inventor of the Ukemi style. Volume 1 of his DVD/video on Ukemi is a good thing to have if you are learning it.
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