Kicks are one of your most valuable tools in Muay Thai, they give you the ability to rain devastating blows on your opponent, BUT, the part of the leg that you use to kick, the shin, is actually quite a sensitive part of your body and can be hurt if not prepared properly. Many times iv’e clashed shins with someone and cried like R.Kelly during his interview on CBS. Until I started intentionally conditioning my shins and now I can take full blown shin clashes and only cry a little bit! This list will help a new Muay Thai Practitioner develop diamond hard and injury proof shins.
The impact your body takes in sparring is key to conditioning yourself, especially in this case with checking and blocking kicks, even in full protective gear, this hurts, clashing shins and elbow blocks suck like nothing else, but the pain is necessary to help you with conditioning your shin. You could even do some very light sparring with no protective gear, just make sure its very light. Not only will you become a better fighter, you’ll be conditioning your shins at the same time!
Kick the bag more
If you have a heavy bag or your gym or training space has one, kicking the bag with your shin bare will slowly weather and harden your shin, as your shin gets used to the impact of you striking the bag over and over again you will eventually de sensitise the nerves and will feel less pain. My recommendations for this would be at the end of a training session, take yourself over to the heavy bag and do fifty kicks with each leg, towards the end, put some real power into your kicks, this serves as a nice finishing exercise and also has the added benefit of hardening your shin.
Lifting heavy weights
- Heavy weight lifting has been proven to be instrumental in building denser bones, so allocate some time in your week for some BALLS TO THE WALL HEAVY LIFTING ACTION, it doesn’t have to be super intense but a form of heavy weightlifting should be included in any fitness routine in my opinion, just make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Running on tarmac or hard floors can help condition your shins and ankles, the constant small impacts slowly condition your shins over the days and months as well as help with your overall conditioning and cardio fitness, I think an argument could be made for skipping to be included too, so if you ABSOLUTELY DETEST running, you could skip instead…. but you should totally run if you can.
'Dink’ your shins
This is a trick I picked up from watching a video by Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, one of the most accomplished MMA strikers out there. Basically you take a small wooden implement, and lightly ‘dink’ your shin, essentially you lightly tap the wooden implement up and down the shin bone, preferably while doing something mindless, I do it while watching videos on youtube, but you can fit it in where ever you can. MAKE SURE you keep it light, you don’t want to absolutely thrash your shins, as this could affect performance in your training sessions, DINK THE SHIN!
Take care of your shins
You should take good care of your shins, using a cold compress after a training session is a good way to alleviate pain and swelling, using some Thai oil Is also good to help your legs recover in time for the next session, I personally use Tiger Balm, but any Thai oil should do. Also, get plenty of calcium to help repair the bone, your bone will be taking small microfractures and then repairing them to grow back stronger, so drink your milk!
With regards to conditioning your shins and Muay Thai in general, persistence and perseverance is key to growing and excelling at Muay Thai. Keep in mind that the changes aren’t going to happen instantly, but with time and effort you’ll see the fruits of you labour and will be a better Nak Muay for it. Remember to stay civilised and keep on training 😊.