Is Kickboxing Bad For Your Joints?

A kickboxer kicked in the fighting ring.
Photo Credit: Eric Langley

Kickboxing is not bad for your joints if you’re participating in cardio kickboxing. If you’re sparring or competing, Science shows that people who train less are more likely to sustain injuries. Generally Speaking, kickboxing strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons which surround your joints.

Kickboxing is a general term given to a group of combat sport disciplines that typically involve punches and kicks, and in some rule sets also knees and elbows. In competition the objective is for fighters to out-stike their opponent to a point where they are physically unable to continue or, at the fights timed conclusion, a panel of judges award victory to the fighter they deem superior.

Given the violent nature of the sport it is understandable that anybody considering participating in kickboxing would have concerns about the effect that this may have on their body. The assumption is often that the effect is a negative one, and that participating in kickboxing will take its toll on your joints.

But is this assumption correct? Is kickboxing bad for your joints?

In order to answer this question we must first define what participating in kickboxing means to you as an individual. Do you wish to train only, or is your intention to compete? It is undoubtedly apparent that the risk of sustaining injury is significantly increased during full-contact competition.

What Science Says about Kickboxing & Its Effects on Your Joints

Photo Credit: gordmann

A recent study [source] investigated the prevalence of injuries among combat sports athletes over 12 months and, though there were many, an overwhelmingly high percentage of the injuries sustained to the joints and otherwise were the cause of external factors i.e. absorbing strikes from an opponent.

This same study also discovered that the injury rate among participants who trained less frequently was significantly higher than than in those who trained more regularly. So, based on these findings, it would be incorrect to assume that simply exposing yourself to kickboxing related exercise puts you at risk of injury when, in fact, this is inaccurate. 

Not only is it NOT considered to be bad for your joints, there is plentiful evidence to suggest that kickboxing has a positive effect on your joints. Exercising in general is known to improve a wide range of bodily functions including the strengthening of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons which surround joints. When these tissues are strong, they act like a brace to stabilize and protect your joints, and kickboxing has been found to be one of the more advantageous types of exercise when compared to other, more generic, training regimes [source].

When considering this it is only logical that, not only should kickboxing not be not be avoided for fear of negative effects on the joints, but actually sought after in pursuit of the potential benefits!

Final Thoughts

I believe the idea that kickboxing is bad for your joints to be unfounded and derived from the nature of its competition. Competing is an optional part of the kickboxing journey and for those of you who choose to compete, we commend you!

But for those who don’t, you don’t have to want to become the heavyweight champion of the world to let kickboxing benefit your life. In a controlled training environment, provided you undergo a sufficient warm up prior to participation and train within realms of your own ability, just like every other sport, kickboxing is only going to improve your physical ability!

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