Muay Thai is a sport that is not for the faint of heart. This sport requires hard work and dedication in order to achieve the best results. One of the side effects of training hard is a lot of minor aches and pains. Any sport that involves physical contact will result in some type of injuries.
Outside of competing in the ring, sparring is the biggest culprit to most Muay Thai injuries. If you are sparring with different people all the time, you should expect minor injuries every once in a while. After training for a while, you will start to notice fewer injuries as you start adapting to the training.
This week I suffered a few minor injuries myself, which is why this topic came to my mind. I thought I would share some common injuries you can expect when training Muay Thai at a gym.
Here are the 9 the most common training injuries that you will encounter:
#1. Swollen/Sprained Ankles
Do you remember the last time you landed a kick on your sparring partners’ elbows? It probably happened last week or the week before. Most shin guards have a little area around your ankle that is unprotected, which is one of the reasons why you don’t get the needed protection.
Ankle sprains are another injury that can occur, but they don’t happen nearly as often (knock on wood). I haven’t had a sprained ankle for a few years, but I’m sure some of you will beg to differ. If you do sprain your ankle, make sure you do strength exercises to help you recover from the sprain. There is nothing worse than having a weak ankle in training.
Prevention Methods: Time your kicks better so they don’t land on your opponent’s elbow. This is a lot easier said than done 🙂 If you have a hurt ankle you can also wear ankle guards that will provide a little bit up extra cushion and protection for soft ankles.
#2. Bruised Shins
Bruised shins are the biggest annoyance for people who are new to Muay Thai. When you haven’t conditioned your shins, you will have a lot of pain when you first start kicking. This is something you will have to get used to.
When I first started Muay Thai 9 years ago, I tried doing everything under the sun to prevent my shins from hurting. Looking back at my old self, I laugh at out futile my attempts to toughen up my shins.
The problem for most people is they want hard shins right away. This doesn’t happen. Over time your shins will harden, but you have to endure the pain first. Once you have properly conditioned your shins, the only time your shins will consistently get busted up is after a fight.
When you get into the ring for the first few times, I can guarantee that your shins will get busted up at the end. After one of my fights, it took me 3 months before the swelling and blood went down and I could kick with full power. It takes a while before they start to harden up and you experience less pain.
Prevention Methods: Slowly condition your shins over time. I see a lot of people online who are beating their shins with baseball bats trying to toughen them up. You need to gradually build up your shins or you won’t be able to use them. Hitting a hard heavy bag is a great way to naturally condition your shins.
#3. Sprained Wrists
Once you sprain your wrist you will have to take it easy and make sure you give your wrist time to heal. If you have a hurting wrist, you won’t be able to spar or clinch properly.
Prevention Method: Make sure you properly wrap your wrists so they are fully protected. If you have a sprained wrist you can tape it in place before training to make sure that it doesn’t move around when you are punching the bag.
#4. Injured Elbows
One of the side effects of blocking a lot of head kicks with your arms is that it can hurt your elbow. If your sparring partner lands hard kicks on your elbow, your elbow will probably hurt for a few days.
This is especially true if you are sparring taller fighters who throw higher kicks at your arms level. If you don’t lean back from the kicks, you will find that your arms naturally absorb the impact of the kicks when you are sparring.
Prevention Methods: The best way to prevent this is to avoid sparring hard with your partner. Another method is to lean back if your sparring partner is throwing a lot of high/head kicks at you. This will prevent your arms from absorbing the damage.
#5. Strained/Pulled Neck Muscle
When you are not used to clinching, the first few weeks of clinching will be rough. Expect your neck to be constantly sore from resisting your opponent’s locks. If you clinch with more experienced guys, expect them to get you in some good locks n the clinch.
Most of the time when you strain your neck, you only need to wait a few days before it feels better. Before training make sure you warm up your neck to get the blood flowing. The more you clinch, the stronger your neck muscles will become. This will reduce the amount of soreness you experience from clinching.
Prevention Methods: Strengthen your neck muscles with exercises outside of training. This will help you get used to people pulling down on your head. Another way to avoid this is don’t let your clinching partner get his hands in position around your neck. Use your arms to block any inside grips he has on you.
#6. Bruised Legs
If you ever spar against someone who is good at throwing low kicks, there is a good chance you will walk away limping. Even if someone isn’t throwing their kicks 100%, repetitive kicks to the same part of the leg will cause you to be sore. Unless you have conditioned your legs to take kicks, low kicks will hurt.
Do You Want to learn how to throw good leg kick combinations? Check out 6 Highly Effective Low Kick Combinations
Fortunately, taking low kicks in sparring is not so bad. It will toughen your legs and teach you how to deal with pain. The hardest part of taking low kicks is rubbing out your legs when you notice knots that have formed. This is where the real pain begins.
Prevention Methods: Block your low kicks. If you are not blocking your low kicks, you deserve to be limping around after sparring. This is the best way to teach you through the feedback loop that you need to block. Trust me, a few weeks of limping around and low kicks will definitely be on your mind.
#7. Plantar Fasciitis
To be a Nak Muay is to be a part-time runner.
Due to all the running (Thai’s often run twice a day…or up to 15k per day) it’s not uncommon for foot injuries to occur.
One of the more common running injuries is plantar fasciitis which is a condition where the connective tissue of the plantar fascia of the foot tear. The result is terrible heel pain that can derail an athletic career.
There are treatment options for plantar fasciitis, but the healing time can be months at the very least.
#8. Shin Splints
Another-running related injury. Shin splints are a common ailment for runners. Treatment can include taking more rest days to allow the condition to heal and, more likely, to replace your shoes.
Wearing non-supportive, ill-fitting, or worn-out running shoes can cause shin splints.
#9. Headaches and Concussions
Every once in a while you might leave training with a minor headache if you had a hard sparring session. This is especially true if you are sparring with people who come from Eastern Europe and have K-1 Kickboxing styles.
Whenever you experience headaches or concussion-like symptoms it is important that you try and give your brain a break.
Make sure you read our article on Concussions and the impact it can have
Concussions are no laughing matter, so if you are dizzy for a few days after training, make sure you take time off. If you ever get knocked out, you should automatically take a few days off, even if you feel fine the next day.
Prevention methods: Avoid sparring with Russians or K-1 Fighters who come from Eastern Europe. There is a big chance of them going 100%. Their extreme intensity, combined with the fact that most of them have pretty good boxing skills is a recipe for headaches. If you are outside of Thailand, you shouldn’t have this problem with your regular sparring partners.
#10. Injured Knees (Sprains and Torn ACLs)
One of the worst injuries you can suffer in Muay Thai is a knee injury. These injuries can happen at any time, and depending on the severity of the injury, it can take you away from training for months.
The most common reason why Thai fighters in Thailand retire early (besides concussions) are knee injuries. If you talk to any Thai trainer in Thailand, most of them have injuries in their knee at some point in their career.
Knee injuries are the worst and are often not preventable. Given the contact nature of Muay Thai, you better make sure that you have strong knees to ensure that you can withstand the impact.
Prevention Methods: Avoid sparring with people who grab and twist your legs in bad positions. Some people will purposely teep/kick their opponent’s knees in sparring, which can also lead to injury. Most Knee injuries are unavoidable and happen when you slip or get thrown. Being fit and not carrying around excess weight is one of the best ways to reduce the impact on your knees and prevent them from being injured.
This list could be a lot longer and include things like busted up toes, bruised ribs, strained groins, knee injuries, injured knuckles, shin splints, and infections (mainly in Thailand) but I don’t want to completely scare people away from training. The bottom line is if you train hard, you can expect to suffer from the occasional injury from time to time.
To prevent injuries in training it is important to properly warm-up before training and make sure you stretch. Taking the right precautions will ensure that you keep the injuries to a minimum. Adequate rest days will also help you recover when you are training hard.
Do you want to know what it is like to get cut in a fight? Read this article HERE
Just because you have an injury, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come to training. There are plenty of things you can do to improve while you are injured. Remember to train hard and train smart!
Have you suffered from any of these injuries in training? Let me know if you think there are some injuries that should be added to this list.
Did you enjoy the article?
If you enjoyed reading this article and want to support our site you can head over to MTP Fight Gear to check out our awesome Muay Thai Tees, Shorts, and Gloves.
All of our equipment is hand crafted in Thailand and is tested by Muay Thai champions. If you want to take your Muay Thai apparel game to the next level, make sure you check out MTP Fight Gear.
Your friends will be jealous, I promise.