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Feb 10, 2010
Back disease and kendo
by: Chris Dalrymple D.C.

As a spine doctor I can shed some light on this question.  I actively participated in kendo practice for some 4 years, but have since become more sporadic in my frequency of practice.  As one who HAS a back injury, and who studies the structure and function of the back here is what I can tell you.

With the FREQUENT one-sided-left-legged-push-off required in kendo, there is a frequent asymmetrical strain on the mechanical structure and function of the lower back. 

When one is used to "walking swinging both legs", to spend hours in one-legged stepping is a mechanical stress that the body must absorb.  With some 80% of the population already having back issues, it can be something which accelerates the onset of other bone and joint diseases.

Osteochondrosis, by the way, "is characterized by interruption of the blood supply of a bone, in particular to the epiphysis, followed by localized bony necrosis, and later, regrowth of the bone." Meaning, roughly, because of inflammation or irritation upon the joint, arthritis follows.

"This disorder is defined as a focal disturbance of enchondral ossification and is regarded as having a multifactorial etiology, so no one thing accounts for all aspects of this disease", meaning it is most likely a functional disturbance, not a pathological disease.

"Today 40% to 80% of people suffer from osteochondrosis", meaning that because of our typically unhealthy lifestyles some form of this disease is to be found in just about everyone.

While kendo technique will remain the same, my suggestion is to try and balance mechanical loads as much as possible.  Try some right-legged push off drills as frequently as the left; make SURE to stretch in an effort to BALANCE tight muscle loads before and after practice (no, it won't directly prevent injury, but it can help take some of the chronic stress off). 

Most of all, stay balanced, flexible, and keep your muscles well toned.  Most spine related "diseases" are functional, not pathological--they occur because of chronic irritation or inflammation, and not because of some infectious agent.
Keep your body functioning as balanced as possible and you will be glad you did.

Kendo-Guide.Com: Thank you very very much for the post.  It is very helpful.  I can relate myself to the chronic inflammation.  My left shoulder is in the very status, I think. I cannot even lift my arm without feeling a pain. So I am not doing keiko at all at the moment. Thanks again for your post!

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