This article delves into a crucial aspect of martial arts, particularly in Karate – the potential risks associated with overstretching your elbow and knee joints during punching and kicking movements. I will explore the importance of proper technique execution and the significance of controlled muscle contractions to prevent injuries and optimize your performance. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a beginner, understanding these principles will help you enhance your skills while safeguarding your joint health.

In what context is the use of provoked muscle contraction for stopping a technique in Karate present and why?

In short, the techniques should stop just before the impact to prevent damage to elbow- and knee joints (applies to punches and kicks performed in the air without an opponent).

The contraction should be as short and light as possible. By doing this, you can quickly move on to the following technique. This goes especially for Kihon and Kata since all punches, strikes, and kicking are done in the air. So at the end of the technique, tighten your fist shortly to prevent damage to your elbow joint. Stop the kick just before the leg is stretched, to avoid overstretching the knee.
Kumite is a completely different subject. Here, you have an opponent, so you do not have to stop the attack anymore. The goal in Kumite is to hit the opponent. The execution of techniques in Kumite must be fully controlled, harmonious, and relaxed, without any deliberately provoked muscle contractions.

The damage is done. What now?

First, I am not a physiotherapist, doctor, or the like. Therefore, seek professional help.

The subsequent is based on personal experience.

When the symptoms occur, it is advisable to cool the sore area with ice (10-15 min every two hours). It is also essential that you relieve the affected area, so stop the activity that creates problems!

Use the RICEM principle

Step 1: Rest (rest and tranquillity)
Step 2: Ice (cooling of the injury that counteracts swelling and pain)
Step 3: Compression (compression, bandaging with moderate pressure to prevent swelling)
Step 4: Elevation (elevation of the arm or leg also prevents swelling and relieves pain)
Step 5: Mobilization (Do not lie on the couch forever; you have to get going again)

Future treatment

You can use a special bandage (Elbow/Knee Wraps) to prevent complete stretching and overstretching of the elbow or knee. Another option is to tape the joint, which achieves the same result. Using these methods during your Karate training can provide significant relief.

If the problem persists, consider physiotherapeutic or chiropractic treatment. The treatment may involve manipulation of the elbow, pressure massage, or acupuncture in the affected muscles. Additionally, you will receive instructions on stretching and strength exercises. Overstretched knees can also benefit from a similar approach. Your doctor might recommend anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Furthermore, you may need to alter your punching and kicking habits in the future.


As you continue your Karate journey, incorporate the principles discussed here into your training routine. Prioritize joint health by stopping techniques just before impact and using controlled muscle contractions. Pay attention to context, adjusting your approach for Kihon, Kata, and Kumite accordingly.

In case of any discomfort or persisting issues, seek professional help from physiotherapists or doctors. Utilize the RICEM principle for immediate relief and consider using specialized bandages or taping for joint support during training.

By being mindful of these essential factors, you can enhance your skills, prevent injuries, and enjoy the many physical and mental benefits that Karate has to offer. Train safely, train wisely, and embrace the art of Karate with confidence and resilience.


In conclusion, understanding the risks associated with overstretching the elbow and knee joints in Karate is essential for every practitioner. By stopping techniques just before impact and utilizing short, controlled muscle contractions, you can safeguard your joint health while optimizing your performance.

Remember, the context matters – in Kihon and Kata, focus on precise movements and brief contractions to prevent injuries during air-based techniques. In Kumite, aim for controlled strikes without deliberate muscle contractions, as you engage with an opponent.

So, protect yourself from potential injuries and enjoy a fulfilling journey in the world of Karate.


Thanks for reading.

Share this article

Related Posts

Muscle memory

Unleashing the Power of Muscle Memory in Karate. The Science ...

Meniscus injury

A meniscus injury refers to damage or tears in the ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *