by Thomas Kurz
Information on this Web page is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice.
Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. If you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before treating yourself or others.
Always consult a physician before beginning or changing any fitness program.
This article is a continuation of Injuries, Sports Training, and Posture, Part II.
Here are two questions and my answers dealing with injuries and the importance of good posture.*
> Dear Mr. Kurz,
> I bought your Stretching Scientifically book and the videos about
> stretching and kicking to learn doing splits (for dancing and martial
> arts) and improve my kick (for MA).
> I really appreciate the valuable information in your books and videos
> and on your website.
> After studying your explanations about stretching and injuries I
> decided that stretching is useless for me because of my imbalanced
> muscles and misaligned bones (scoliosis, twisted pelvis) with
> permanent hypertonus in muscles. I will see an applied kinesiology
> doctor for that problem.
> But about another problem I am not sure what to do:
> My small scoliosis and my damaged knees (menisci, chondropathia
> patellae) were not real obstacles for my body practice (dancing,
> running, Pilates, and since recently mixed martial arts) until now.
> But now I’ve got a new serious injury that makes me feel completely crippled:
> vertebral disc prolapse between lumbar vertebrae 4 and 5 with relative
> spinal stenosis. Now I am in despair and feel worthless because [healthy]
> knees and lumbar spine are essential for any kind of sport.
> I am 47 years young, and usually people over 60 years get such
> spinal cord problems (it’s embarrassing to be such a weakling).
> Do you know if it is possible to be successful and competent in sports
> and dance with such a damaged disc? Or should I quit MMA training
> because hard kicking, wrestling, etc. are too dangerous for the disc?
First, you should quit all your training until your physician tells you otherwise.
As you aged, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments have lost some of their elasticity, so they can’t take abuse as they used to when you were younger.
Also, the more you load an unstable structure (poor posture), the more likely it is to collapse. As long as you were young, or your training was light or moderate, your structural defects (scoliosis, twisted pelvis, etc.) did not get much worse. When your training become heavy, or your age caught up with you, your body could not compensate any longer, and its most vulnerable parts broke down.
To avoid such disasters, competent instructors identify posture defects and weaknesses and correct them BEFORE allowing an athlete (or a student, or a customer) to participate in normal training.
Now that you are injured, you should follow the treatment and advice of your physician. Prolapsed discs usually heal with correct treatment and correct exercises and do not require surgery. I am sure that a good applied kinesiology specialist will help you regain your health and even correct your postural imbalances. Until then you had better cease all exercises that are not recommended by your doctor.
> Recently, I bought a bunch of books and videos from Stadion Publishing
> which include Stretching Scientifically.
> The reason I bought them is because I am overweight (also diabetic and
> flat footed) and am trying to lose weight while taking martial arts
> The lack of flexibility in my muscles and joints as well as my weight are
> great hindrances. Moreover, many of the exercises feel brutal since I am
> far from fit and have begun to feel joint pain in my left ankle, especially
> from kicks.
> Committed to losing weight and being active, I nevertheless feel that I
> am straining my body because I don’t think I am standing correctly,
> finding my center of gravity, and I am overstretching or straining my muscles.
> I am in need of someone (kinesiotherapist?) who can look at my body,
> my posture, musculoskeletal frame, and walk me through an exercise and
> stretching regimen while knowing when not to push beyond a certain limit so
> I can participate in these activities without damaging myself or giving
Here are addresses of sites where you may find a specialist to treat you:
www.muscleactivation.com/find-a-specialist/ (my preferred method of treatment)
Note that excellent physical therapists and sports physicians are trained in more than one of the above methods.
You may also read my articles on injuries and on posture at stadion.com:
If you are interested in posture correction, study and apply lessons listed below:
* Good posture is such that all muscles exert a minimal effort
to maintain it—and all work in a balanced way, with none fatiguing to the
point of forcing its load on other muscles. Bad posture is such that
some muscles carry most of the load, until they give up and others
must compensate. The muscles forced to compensate are not in the best
position to do this (“it’s not their job”) and so they get too tense
and too short, while those opposing them get lax and too long. The
compensations cascade, affecting more and more muscles and causing
tension pains, weaknesses, poor stability of joints, and eventually