Kyokushin Karate Elbow?

kyokushin osu

I recently blogged about Kime. Striking with relaxed force. That type of striking has always come very naturally to me. I’ve always had natural speed. And I guess that speed has caught up with me.

For the past two weeks I have been nursing an injury. I didn’t think much of it at first. I had never felt anything like it before and just assumed I strained something. My right forearm began bothering me. I was feeling some discomfort and having difficulty with grip. As time has passed it’s actually gotten worse. I began having difficulty typing and doing other activities. My wife, who works in fitness, health and post-rehab took a look and said it appeared I had “tennis elbow”. A trip to the doctor confirmed it.

Tennis Elbow? I don’t even play tennis. I do Kyokushin! OSU! LOL! She explained that it doesn’t have to do with tennis. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition of the elbow caused by overuse. Playing tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition, but so can Karate and combat sports. It never bothered me before, but I am convinced it’s because I didn’t properly warm up before “whipping” those punches out. I might get away with it when I was younger, but I am now 44 and injuries take longer to heal, so I really need to warm up. As well, direct blows to the epicondyle can cause it. So, blocking a kick with your forearm.tennis_elbow1

Recent studies show that tennis elbow is often due to damage to a specific forearm muscle. The extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight. This occurs during a reverse punch, for example. When the ECRB is weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle. This leads to inflammation and pain. Where I am, now.

When you are warmed up, the muscles are like rubber bands. However, with age, and not warming up, think of the muscle being like a leather belt. So, when you whip a punch out with snap and Kime, it’s powerful and fine. However, when the muscles are more like that leather belt, think of the tension on the tendons attaching the belt, or muscle, to the elbow.

The symptoms of tennis elbow develop gradually, or more acute, as in my case. In most cases, the pain begins as mild and slowly worsens over weeks and months. There is usually no specific injury associated with the start of symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of tennis elbow include:

  • Pain or burning on the outer part of your elbow
  • Weak grip strength

The symptoms are often worsened with forearm activity, such as holding a racquet, turning a wrench, or shaking hands, or punching, doing push-ups. You get it. Your dominant arm is most often affected; however both arms can be affected.

The treatment is basically resting the injury, anti-inflammatories like advil and physical therapy. 

As much as it sucks, I have to lay off my dominant arm. I can still go to class, kick, punch with the left etc., but if I want this to heal, I need to listen to my body and not continue injuring my arm. Or, I might be taking an extended vacation from Kyokushin. And I don’t want that.



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