Muay Thai is a unique martial art in that no other martial art uses the shin quite like Thai Boxers do. In Muay Thai, you kick with your shin, not your foot! This can cause some discomfort in the beginning or after your first fight.
The single, best remedy for shin pain is prevention. Before we spell out prevention tips, knowing the difference between pain and injury is key. Injury requires medical attention and a pause on training. Pain can mean bruising, tenderness, or small abrasions on the shins and other signs of discomfort.
- In martial arts, technique is key. Sloppy technique can mean the difference between winning or losing as well as safety versus injury. To perfect the low kick technique in Muay Thai, we train by running drills and kicking a heavy bag. This allows Nak Muays to build up a tolerance to shin impact that will be sustained in sparring and competitive fighting events. During this training period, when drilling with a partner, wear shin guards. Avoid shin-to-shin contact!
- When drilling or hitting the heavy bag, slowly work your way up from a lower to higher intensity.
- Don’t kick trees, bats, poles, you get the idea. Practice your kicks in drills, and then practice impact on Thai pads and heavy bags. Don’t roll glass bottles over your shins either, this does nothing to improve your technique. Remember, technique is crucial! [Related: The Truth About Kicking Trees In Muay Thai]
- ICE! Ice is super basic but it works wonders. The sooner you can get ice on those shins, the better and quicker your recovery. Don’t place any ice directly on your skin. Use a few layers of plastic wrap over your skin and then wrap around the ice pack.
- After icing, a warm epsom salt bath can help with inflammation. The theory is that the salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate in the warm water and is absorbed by the skin.
- Once you’re done with the warm bath, finish off with a cold shower to get your cells moving and recovering faster.
- If your shins are really swollen, IBUProfen or Advil has been known to help pretty quickly.
- Elevate. Lay down and keep your shins above your heart to reduce swelling in the shins.
- Tiger balm, a topical pomade made from camphor and menthol has also risen to become a Muay Thai “cult classic”. We can’t vouch for the mint extract solution, but many others claim that it works wonders for swollen or knotted up shins.
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Everyone who trains Muay Thai will get battered shins at some point. It is a right of passage. Ice it and don’t complain. [Related: ASK KRU CHRIS – What Can I Do To Improve In Class]
- If you are injured, say something! Keeping quiet will only allow your injury to get worse, keeping you away from time at the gym.
- Rest. Make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable time to avoid a slowed recovery.
- Hydrate. Again, your body can’t recover if you are not healthy and hydrated.
Want to learn more about Muay Thai techniques? Catch us on YouTube! Please be advised that we are not medical professionals and we do not provide medical advice.
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