Side kick flexibility issues

Discussion in 'Flexibility Training' started by aaradia, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I have trouble with my side kicks. I am not even sure how common the names of our kicks are with other styles. Sure some I know are common, but some others I suspect have different names. Knife edge, speed thrust (basically a version of a knife edge) and the power thrust are the kicks that come to mind. Power thrust is a side kick where the leg is chambered sideways and you thrust out your leg and return it to a sideways position. Ideally, even with the knee a little lower than the foot- angling up a bit, but I can't do that.

    In addition to needing to get them higher, I have pain issues too. When I do slow motion kicks, the side ones sometimes make my lower back spasm for the next couple of days. Stopped me from doing slow motion kicks, but I would like to get back to them.

    Pain is in my lower back. I also have just tightness pain in the hip area. I need to go google some hip anatomy, because I am not sure how much of my issue might be hips vs specifically hip flexors.

    When I do the power thrust, the tightness and bit of pain is in my standing leg more than my kicking leg. Also, I can't really chamber my leg as far back as it should be- just too tight.

    Trying to go higher and do some new stretches caused pain in my left glute that felt like a sciatic pain, but it didn't go too far down the leg. That lasted a few days.

    I do stretches, and am trying some new ones recently given to me by instructors as I have talked to them about this issue. But I thought I would pick the brains of you all here too.
  2. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I presume you've PM'd Van Zandt? :)

    The tightness pain in your hip sounds like it could be weak abductors, and if you think you may have short sciatic nerves I would see a physical therapist.

    Lower back pain sounds to me like you may need to strengthen your core around the spine, which acts as a stabiliser when tilting the pelvis for side kicks.
  3. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    If I may try and be tactful for second....have you considered age?
    I know that as I've gone from late 30's to early 40's my flexibility has suffered. Same sort of things...tender lower back, harder to kick higher with good form and power, etc.
    When I've looked into how to develop flexibility and got advice from Van Zandt it all seems far too complex and requires developing levels of strength I'd have no hope of achieving in the time I have so I basically kick lower and manage as best I can.
  4. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I forgot to give any solutions!

    I had problems with hip abductors and lower back pain (felt on the opposite side of the kicking leg) when I was really hammering side kicks early in my training.

    Two main things that helped:

    Lateral leg raises (I like to do them standing, so I work on balance at the same time, but you can do them on the floor). Might as well do leg raises front and back while you're at it.

    Lying on my front, lifting the legs, lifting the torso and lifting both for the length of a long exhalation, about 10 of each. Alternate the side you face your head, and isolate the lower core so you are exercising the right bits.
  5. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    I would suggest, if possible, getting your posture checked, and getting assessed by a sports physiotherapist* regarding possible muscular weaknesses. This seems to be the typical sort of issue that clears out with a couple months of weight training, honestly.

    *Since you have California listed as your location, you may want to contact Dr. Quinn Henoch, based out of Laguna Nigel. He works closely with Juggernaut Training Systems, one of the world's leading strength and conditioning groups, doing sports rehabilitation for them, and can likely either fix you in a jiffy if you can get treated by him directly, or recommend someone trustworthy and more accessible to you. More info (marketing-y info, but still info :p) here:
  6. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    If not painful, try single leg circles to warm-up the hip area:

    [ame=""]How to Do Single Leg Circles | Pilates Workout - YouTube[/ame]
  7. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick


    I have addressed only those issues that relate exclusively to hip abduction range of motion. I don't know enough about your martial art style's specific kicking mechanics or terminology to give an answer there.

    Low back muscle spasms after kicking can be a sign of lumbar disc herniation, or muscle weakness (typically in the erector spinae).

    Lumbar disc herniation can be caused by simultaneous hip abduction and spinal rotation (as happens during lateral kicks) increasing compression forces on the vertebrae. These forces are magnified further when the kick is slowed down, or when the leg is held in place for even a short period of time. You can minimise the compression effect by doing forward bends (with a rounded spine) or hanging from a piece of apparatus (such as a pull-up bar) with arms extended overhead after each set of kicks; doing so increases space between the vertebrae.

    A weak back is one of the most common causes of dysfunction that affects combat sports athletes that I treat in my clinical practice. A strong back is essential because the trunk and pelvis are exposed to significant explosive forces during powerful kicks. I recommend a healthy diet of good mornings, deadlifts and back extensions.

    A training programme that simultaneously develops strength and flexibility will address any muscle tightness and joint instability in your hips. Full range of motion heavy squats (especially the overhead variety) and isometric stretches will be included in such a programme.

    The presence of tightness and pain is usually an indicator of reduced range of motion caused by muscle weakness. Again, a programme that builds flexibility and strength will address this.

    Chambering your knee in preparation to kick is a display of static-active flexibility. This type lags significantly behind both passive and dynamic flexibility. In basic terms, you need to be able to do splits (or at least get quite close to them) before you can have a high chamber.

    Again, heavy squats for a few months should solve this.

    Please can you post your current stretching routine?
  8. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    VZ: Thankfully, I've never come across anyone herniating a disc through kicking. How common is it?

    A note to my post, because I left it too late to edit: I meant that the (probably) erector spinae is felt on the opposite side of the supporting leg, not the kicking leg (doh!).

    A fun fact about hip abductors: when under load, as when being the supporting leg to a side kick, the function of origin/insertion is reversed. It makes no practical difference, but goes to show what a complex feat of engineering the body is.
  9. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Thanks to everyone for their responses. I am mulling it all over.

    Van Zandt, from my PT a year ago, and Dr. Appt's I am pretty sure that I do still have weak back muscles, but not any herniation.

    I will post my stretching routine in a day or two. I just found my stretching books so I can look up the names of the stretches I do. I realized I don't really pay attention to the names.

    But just you asking this made me go through my log on MAP. And I realized that I don't stretch nearly enough. When my work schedule changed, I had to skip some of the days I started by stretching to be able to make class. But in my mind, I still stretched far more days in the week than I do. Like my mind thought I stretched as often as I did on my old schedule. Dumb huh? That is why those MAP workout logs come in handy.

    Will post my regular stretches soon. THANKS!
  10. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    You really have to address the strength deficit. Without it, more stretching could lead to worsening problems rather than rectifying them.

    I'm sure a simple lifting routine would sort out your problems, but it is also possible to build strength through bodyweight exercises if that isn't your cup of tea.
  11. Gunner

    Gunner Valued Member

    The side kick is more dependant on the open front split. The supporting foot should be pointed away from your target. This allows the hips to open. If you don't turn the back foot, the top of your femur can strike the hip bone limiting the height and comfort of the kick.

    I cannot do a full side split, but I can get a high chamber and a chest high side kick. For some reason my dynamic flexibility is greater than my static flexibility. I think the antagonistic muscles tense more when I'm doing static stretches.
  12. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Technique, technique, technique.
    I am really not conventionally flexible, but can kick really quite high, because my technique is good.
    Break the technique down into 3 movements. First lift your knee directly to the front, aiming to bring your knee up to your chest. Point your toes down and keep your hip down (think of your stance technique).
    Rotate 90 degrees and KEEP YOUR KNEE UP. Pull your knee to the opposite side so your foot lifts slightly.
    Finally explosively pivot on the ball of your foot a further 90 degrees, driving off your support leg and pushing your leg out from the hip (not the knee). The trajectory of the kick should be linear, not curved. Make sure you're fully turned before you throw the kick.
    If you're getting back as a result of kicking (as opposed to kicking aggravating back pain) it suggests to me that you're overworking the muscles in the back of your hip, which in turn suggests that you're dropping your knee when you pivot and then lifting your knee as you kick.
    Try kicking with a high backed chair in front of you, at the distance your knee would be at when the kick is extended. Your foot shouldn't clip the chair.

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