Martial Arts and Knee Pain: How Kung Fu Helped Me
Many people suffer from joint pain. Whether it is from arthritis, inflammation or actual physical damage it is a very common thing and can affect your every day life. I have had my share of these trials. I am a very active male of 30 and throughout the years I have suffered multiple injuries including dislocations to both my knees several times, I have broken both ankles, had hip dysplasia and plantar fasciitis. I have had two knee surgeries and I can fill a duffle bag with the amount of braces and wraps I’ve accumulated over the years. And all this is just the injuries I’ve suffered to my legs. Every time I endured one of these incidents it was both painful and debilitating because it robs you of a basic fundamental of everyday life that we all take for granted, walking. For anyone that has experienced this same thing, you know that even after recovery and rehabilitation its still never the same. I have done everything from stretches, to exercise, to physical therapy and even electric neural stimulation. But with all the injuries and rehabilitation, nothing has helped me regain what I lost more than Kung Fu.
People today are so used to a quick fix or answer. Whether its googling an answer or location to getting food instantly almost anywhere, we have become accustomed to fast results to our needs. When it comes to injury however, there are no quick solutions and so often we just decide to settle and live with result. Simply lifting weights is not a solution either. Kung Fu helped me because it gave me an extensive understanding into how the human body was designed to work at its peak capacity. The human body is a machine, and like any machine when used the way it is designed it functions smoothly. But when you use any machine improperly eventually it breaks down. Kung Fu is the study of how to properly use the motion and potential energy of the body to produce the greatest result. When people hear Kung Fu they immediately think of fighting or those cool martial arts movies, but in truth kung fu is the mastery over one’s own self. The term kung fu translates to “hard work” because that is what it is.
With this in mind it is plain to see that learning how to best use this machine of yours could help with any physical issues you are having. The body is made of multiple structures, from skeletal and muscular to vascular and neural, all working together to give us mobility. Doing a motion over and over creates muscle memory, however not all these memories are good. When we are little one of the great mile stones is learning to walk, but just because we can walk doesn’t mean we walk correctly. After I injured my knees I found out by talking with physical therapists that I was walking improperly which directly contributed to degradation of tissue in my knees and created stress on surrounding structures. I had to re teach my body to walk the right way this time. Kung Fu considers stances and walking and specifically proper weight transfer and distribution as one of the most important aspects of the art. There are countless exercises for proper walking, stance training, balance, and weight shifting all cultivating healthy and strong legs. Not only do these things build up but they also repair damage and help prevent further injury. Now I choose to pursue the more aggressive aspects of Kung Fu such as throws and sparing which have lead to injury, but since being in the art my recovery time has been cut to less than half. The first two times I dislocated my knee I wasn’t taking martial arts and I couldn’t walk for a week and felt the affects for a long time after. When I was injured while in Kung Fu my body was more in tune to what was happening and I was able to avoid any serious injury and my recovery time was slim to none.
All practitioners of the martial arts have various reasons why they choose to pursue it but often health benefits are not a primary concern. Martial arts are viewed as a fighting sport but the every day health benefits of the practice are undeniable. And you don’t have to be a master to reap these benefits. Even something as simple as taking a tai chi class once a week can greatly help with arthritis or pain management by helping with proper alignment and increasing blood flow. Kung Fu has greatly increased my quality of life and it is my hope that others will read this article and perhaps find the same.