To minimize knee pain from punting and kicking, prioritize your recovery and ensure that your training program is not too intense for what your body is currently capable of doing. 

In this article, I’ll discuss what causes knee pain from punting and kicking, what to do about it, and what I’ve learned from my time as a D2 punter and kicker, turned doctor of physical therapy. 

Also struggling with back pain from kicking? Check out this very popular article we have on that and what you should do about it.

What causes knee pain from punting and kicking?

knee pain punting warm up
Punting warm-up at Harding University

From my experience as a decent D2 punter ~ 39 yd average, and mediocre kicker, I’ve had my fair share of injuries and pain when I was training my craft. 

I’ve had back pain, knee, pain, ankle issues, and hip pain as a result of training. 

Knee pain as with most other pain and injuries that crop up is usually related to a combination of factors. 

Improper warm-up

If you go straight into kicking as hard as you can without warming up, this can potentially lead to developing some knee pain. It’s beneficial to warm up the internal muscle temperature as well as to increase joint lubrication to help to prevent pain. 

This does not need to be an extremely long warm-up. It can be as simple as a slow jog of 400 meters, a couple sets of lunges, and a few other dynamic warm-up exercises. 

I will write another article on warm-ups for punters and kickers and include the link here when it is ready. 

Too much volume

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably getting over 100 reps of full kicks per day, thinking that this is what’s necessary to improve your hang time, placement, and consistency.

It’s great if you have this drive, however if your knee is starting to bug you with this much practice, it might mean you need to prioritize recovery and reduce the amount of full kicks/punts you are doing. 

Too much intensity

This goes hand in hand with too much volume. Trying to smash the football every kick during practice should not be the goal. There is a time to practice this, however you shouldn’t be going RPE 10 (rating of perceived exertion, see this article for a good description), with every single kick. 

If you’re having knee pain and you realize you’re kicking your hardest on every rep, it may be time to reduce your intensity. 

Poor recovery

If you are kicking every day with no rest in-between and/or you aren’t sleeping well you shouldn’t definitely fix that. 

It’s fine to do drill work every day, working on your drop, your foot placement, and your steps, but to practice full approaches every day may be too much. Instead, take a few days off from full approaches and instead do more drill or technique work. 

Sleep is also very important. If you are not feeling well rested each night, assess why this is the case and then take step to start improving your sleep. 

I’ll be posting an article about improving sleep here, along with a podcast interview I did with a sleep physician. I’ll link to that once it’s finished.  In the meantime, you can check out Dr. Daniel Erichsen’s youtube channel here.

What is the best way to improve my knee pain from punting and kicking?

Dr. Nate punting
Dr. Nate punting in community college

Modify your volume, intensity, and warm-up. Also, make sure to prioritize your recovery. 

Another way to improve your pain and prevent it from coming back is to implement a strength training routine. 

This training routine should include squats, lunges, deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, abdominal exercises, Copenhagen planks, jefferson curls, and a variety of other movements to ensure your body is strong and able to withstand the forces that you will experience during punting and kicking. 

You can purchase my Strength Training for Punters and Kickers Program, here once it’s ready :).

How much should I be training my punting and kicking?

There is no hard and fast rule for this. If you are a beginner, just starting out, i’d recommend only starting with two days per week of higher intensity training. 

As you progress and have more years of experience under your belt it is completely reasonable to have 3+ hard days of training, given you are not experiencing severe pain and discomfort. 

Any increase in training intensity or volume should be monitored. You should be monitoring for how fatigued and how fresh you feel, and if you are having any recurrent pain. 

It’s normal to have pain every once in a while that doesn’t last for more than a few days. It’s not normal to experience the same pain over and over again. This means you need to change something about your training. 

How many reps of punting and kicking should I be doing each day?

As I discussed above, there is no hard and fast rule. 

If you are just starting out then it’s reasonable to only start with around 20-30 reps. 

Slowly increase your number of reps per two weeks by 5 reps each training session. 

Once you’ve reached 100 reps in one training session, check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling as this is a pretty high # of reps. If you progress at the pace above, this should add on volume slow enough to where you aren’t experiencing severe pain. 

Of course there is more to pain and injury than just this, but slow and steady is the best way to reduce injury risk. If recurrent pain does develop you can always throw in a few more rest days, decrease your volume, and increase or change up your strength training routine.  

What are the different types of knee pain that could occur?

Patellar tendonitis. 

Fat pad irritation.

Distal quadricep tendon strain.

Generalized knee joint inflammation.

The same approach can be used with each of these diagnoses. Mainly adjusting volume, and intensity, and optimizing your recovery. 

How common is knee pain among punters and kickers?

This is a very common condition. Although there has not been a scientific study, from my experience as a punter and as a physical therapist, it is very common, particularly on the plant leg due to the high amount of force that is transmitted through the knee during planting. 

Please ask me any questions you have in the comment below and I can create new articles based on this information. Thank you!