In traditional hsing-i martial arts they spend a year strengthening the back, then they move into the lower legs and start preparing the body for kicks. This training has to prepare the knees, the weakest link in the chain to absorb the various blows that may hit it.
I recommend taking a segment of that training, the strengthening knee portion to prepare you ligaments and muscles. This will include:
To tone a small hand wrist weight is applied to the base of the toes. It should be tied with Velcro or a strap that keeps it on. It should not be a heavy weight. Sitting on a surface that allows the legs to hang freely you can begin making circles with the foot. The leg starts out at 90 degrees to the table. Slowly raise the leg until it reaches a level position and then slowly lower it. Do the the next leg to give this leg a break. Repeat this exercize making circles in the opposite direction. Now repeat 3 to 5 times to tone and even out the surrounding ligaments.
To Strengthen surrounding ligaments and their corresponding muscles begin in a standing position (use a balance point if needed with a table or pole) on one foot with the knee slightly bend. Begin to draw circles on the knee that has no weight. At first be content with circles drawn on the floor. Over time begin to lift this circle so that, eventually, the circle is drawn on an imaginary vertical wall in front of you. Do not overdo this exercise. Slowly build each new angle from 3 to 10 times in repeats. Give the knees a day to rest in between working them out.
Give the knees time to strengthen before attempting the next exercise.
This next exercise should only be done after warming up with drawing circles. It is recommended to warm up the calves as well with 3-10 toe to heel raises. Traditionally these are done with the back of the palms resting on the kidney (on the back with raised hands. On exhale come up on the toes while pressing down with the back of the hands to the sacrum. On inhale rock back on the heels while raising up on with the back of the hands. As you first learn it, minimize the raise and rock -- give yourself time to acclimate to a nice calf stretch.
To strengthen the muscle connection into the knee, begin taking dips of a quarter inch down on the leg that is holding the body. Martial artists in good shape are warned to take 6 months to a year to complete their dip training down to the floor. Slowly increase this quarter inch dip to 6 to 8 inches.
Once again, it is important to rest a day after working the legs like this. To maintain this flexibility I recommend twice a week after achieving the desired results.
© 2009 David Scott -- All rights Reserved