How to Protect Joints in Cardio Kickboxing
Through no fault of their own, many cardio-kickboxing instructors do not teach students how to protect joints in the arms and legs. Though rooted in martial arts, cardio-kickboxing is an aerobic format. As with any other aerobic format, it is set to fast-paced music. Often instructors have no time during their routines to provide customized safety pointers for each student. If you participate in these classes, ask lots of questions before and after class in order to ascertain that you are executing the movements correctly. Never perform an exercise that causes you sharp pain. If you do not find the guide below effective at minimizing such pain, simply ask your instructor for modifications. No doubt he/she will be pleased with your enthusiasm and glad to help.
7 Steps to Protect Joints in Cardio Kickboxing
1. Keep your wrists straight while striking.
A bent wrist with a lot of momentum behind it can cause radial nerve and joint damage.
2. When punching, make a tight fist.
Tuck your thumb and make contact using the top knuckles of your index and middle fingers only. Even if you do not have a bag or a real opponent to strike, practice proper form. Keeping a tight hand will help you remember to keep a tight wrist, as stressed in step 1.
3. Never lock your elbows.
Though your hands and wrists remain rigid, your elbows should always have a little give. Locking can cause severe damage to them; and, if you are hitting a solid target, to the shoulders and collarbone as well.
4. Throw your entire body into a hand motion.
Stopping your own momentum by using just the arm can be damaging in two ways. It can tempt you to lock your elbow. And, it can tear your shoulder muscles and/or ligaments by literally ripping the arm away from its socket.
5. Pick your entire foot up instead of pivoting.
Often in cardio-kickboxing classes you are expected to strike with one hand and then the other without switching feet. This is an effective exercise because, in addition to giving you the cardiovascular workout you came for, it’s also working your obliques (side abs).
However, if you simply pivot your back foot when you execute the second strike, you are putting your knees and ankles at risk. It may seem like more work to pick the foot up at first; but once you get the hang of it, your joints will thank you.
6. Never lock your knees.
The knees are one of the most frequently injured joints in cardio-kickboxing due to hyper-extension during kicks. It is even more damaging to lock your knees than your elbows since your legs are heavier than your arms, and the momentum can cause more damage.
7. Thoroughly stretch your hip flexors, which are the areas in front of your thighs.
If your instructor does not usually do this during both warm-up and cool-down, do it on your own time before and/or after class. Examples of hip flexor stretches are the runners’ lunge, split and half-split. If flexibility is not your strong suit, simply get on one knee in a padded area of your gym.
As your flexibility improves, bring your front foot further and further forward. You may eventually be able to lift your back knee off the ground into a runners’ lunge. Keeping the hip flexors limber is important because you use them every time you do front kicks. If they are stiff, it can affect your upper legs or even your knees due to tightness in your quadriceps.
Consult a physician or exercise professional before beginning any fitness program.
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