How Martial Arts Training Can Cause Foot, Leg and Ankle Injuries

Posted on: 13 July 2016


Martial arts are excellent pastimes for maintaining general health and fitness; however, injuries such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain) are ripe. Approximately, 10 percent of all martial arts injuries are foot or ankle related. If you're worried about incurring injuries from kicking, understanding the causes will help you better prepare your body.  

The Importance of Strength Balance and Stability

Most martial arts practitioners become injured due to lack of balance, stability and strength. For example, the dynamic movement of the front snap kick can tear the hamstrings if they aren't flexible or warmed up; while the lack of balance on the non-kicking foot and sudden upward movement could leave the foot loaded without stability, which could cause ankle strains. When these kicks are performed with movement and interference from an opponent, the risk is increased tenfold. 

If you ever tear a muscle or experience pain after training, give it a rest and remind yourself not to push beyond your capabilities. When learning new techniques, always start off with a limited range of motion, and build your flexibility, strength, and balance over time. Make sure you warm up and cool down sufficiently beforehand.

Understanding Blunt Force Trauma

Blunt force trauma due to the foot hitting another solid object is very common in martial arts. Side kicks generate a great deal of force, through the femur and towards the ball and socket joint at the hip. The slightest misstep can result in a misalignment of the entire upper leg or torsion of the lower leg, resulting in abductor tears, snapping hip syndrome, or even sprains and fractures to the ankle and foot. 

If you ever suspect a problem after kicking, do not move from your falling position for a few minutes. This will allow the initial shock of injury wear off, giving enough time to assess the extent of the problem. Immediately after immobilization, apply ice and elevate the limb. This will reduce the pain and swelling. If you have a fracture, it will take at least eight weeks to heal. During this time, engage in soft exercise to maintain strength and flexibility, but do not under any circumstances, partake in martial arts. 

Martial arts instructors, while knowledgeable in training techniques, are not podiatrists. Therefore, they may not have the knowledge and equipment to address injuries. If you ever have a problem or want to take adequate preventative measures, speak to a professional.