The Powerful Feet of Martial Artists

Did you ever wonder how Karate masters are able to kick through many stacked wooden boards and even concrete blocks? Well, simply put, after years of practice and increasing accuracy of the movement, it is possible to safely accomplish the astonishing. A very basic explanation is that a karate chop or kick, when performed correctly, puts a force on objects that breaks their elastic limits. Since bones can endure much more force than wood or even concrete blocks, the collision ends in a positive for the human body. Moreover, hands and feet also have padding (fat, bones, and muscles) to absorb more force than the to-be-broken objects.

Does this mean that in a fight against wood and concrete, humans will always win? Unfortunately, no. Karate and other Martial Arts Masters fine-tune their technique when testing their limits of breaking as much wood or concrete as they can. Over years of practice, they get faster and stronger. Beginners and imitators may find themselves in a painful situation when things go wrong. If there is no technique and poor accuracy, the object of the kick will win the fight. This type of blunt trauma can lead to broken toenails, severe swelling, hematomas, dislocations, sprains, and even fractures or broken bones.

A note of caution – Like with many other sports, overuse injuries can happen in martial arts as well. They include: Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, sesamoiditis, and ankle or toe sprains. Repeated use of incorrect techniques or movements makes it more likely to experience these issues. Additionally, if there is a dominant leg that does most of the kicking, the supporting leg may incur a strain as well, just like in the overuse injuries.

The following are some tips for preventing injuries as you learn martial arts:

  • Learn and practice proper form. Without practice, you will not learn the proper technique, raising risk for injury. If you are unsure of a move, ask questions and make sure you fully understand it.
  • If sparring, make sure to use protective gear. Make sure the gear is secure and not too old (e.g. worn down or breaking).
  • When using a punching/kicking bag, reduce risk of injury by making sure you do a few test kicks so that you understand the weight of the bag.
  • Clean your feet and hands before and after. Most martial arts require no shoes, but since you will share the mats or equipment, it’s possible to encounter germs that you do not want.

If you do find yourself with an injury from practicing martial arts, do not walk or shake it off. Small injuries can continue to become more severe issues if not properly treated. Treatments can be anything from rest and ice to immobilization with a boot or even surgery. At Fords Foot and Ankle Care, we can provide professional assessment and treatment. Come see our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Carl Ingrassia, by making an appointment at our Fords, NJ office. Call us today at (732) 738-4441.