Over the past couple of days, I have had to stop practicing due to experiencing sharp knee pains. Now, this is not a new thing as I have always had knee pains, which I attributed to my high flying, low stance training Wushu days. However, the only major difference in my training is that I have been focusing on Chen Taiji instead of Yang Taiji…
Over time, I became a bit leery about Chen Taiji due to the high emphasis on side-to-side motions within the form and stances. In fact, the signature Chen stances (lazy tie coat, single whip) are all side shifting stances. While at first, this may seem like no big deal, but IMO, my knees feel MUCH better if I do forward-back motions instead of side-to-side motions. Perhaps this is a sign of fate, eh?
Based on the picture of knee anatomy, a majority of my knee pains feel like they are coming from the medial and lateral meniscus. In an article called, “Runner’s World: My Knees Ache” I could have Patellofemoral pain.
[A] Patellofemoral pain can be caused by alignment problems, damage to kneecap cartilage, overpronation, or muscle/tendon weakness or tightness. … Strength training, wearing a knee brace, taping your arches or wearing an orthotic, and replacing worn shoes or wearing motion-control shoes can help.
I used to wear those Polyurethane knee braces but then took those off. I have been trying to pay careful attention to the alignment of my knees, especially the knee to toe alignment. I have switches shoes and now wear indoor soccer shoes with high arch support for training (though doesn’t help when I train indoors, which is most of the time).
However, one thing I notice is that I feel the pain pretty sharply during side-to-side motions (as stated above) and during transitional movements within Chen, especially during the transitions that include the foot stepping out sideways.
I found a passage that talks about “Q Angle“:
Does this mean the knee should not move more than 22 degrees sideways? Perhaps my hips and butt muscles aren’t strong enough leading to insufficient support during knee tracking? Alternatively, I have often heard that if your hips are not loose and flexible enough, then your knees may hurt and to raise your stance until you attain a certain amount of flexibility and softness in your hips/kua. In my own practice, I have raised my stance to the point that I bend my knees maybe 15 degrees (very high stance compared to the chen 90 degree parallel thigh goal…) and I still encounter the issue.
Anyhoo, I think my solution will be to cut back on Chen Taiji and start doing some stretching and strengthening exercises shown on the FamilyDoctor.Org website. Oh well…