Sorry to break it to you, but at some point in your Muay Thai career, you are going to get hurt.
This could be a common Muay Thai injury like a blister or black eye, or it could be more serious like a sprained ankle or broken bone. In any case, being mentally prepared for roadblocks and learning how to persist past these obstacles is key to any nak muay’s career and overall sanity.
Before I go into some of the most common Muay Thai injuries, I want you to understand that when you are injured and can’t train, it is not the end of the world! I have had minor injuries and serious injuries that have kept me away from the gym, but there are always other ways to improve yourself and stay productive that do not always have to relate directly to training.
To understand more what I mean, check out my post The Benefits Of Being Injured.
Also don’t be a dumbass. If you are seriously hurt, do not try to push through more training sessions and risk getting injured even worse. That being said, do not make excuses to why you can’t train because of minor injuries or pains. In the end, you will have to learn to listen to your body and do what you feel is right.
Cause: If you have ever had to deal with shin splints then you know how much they suck! They are caused by overuse of your legs (most typically from running, especially on hills) and can cause inflammation and a ton of pain just from walking around.
Treatment: Rest is obviously encouraged, but a lot of headstrong fighters will keep pushing through the pain regardless of how much it hurts. What you should do is take a few days off of running or skipping rope to let the inflammation heal. Other than that, making sure you have a solid pair of running shoes and good form when you are running are other factors that could help you avoid shin splints.
Cause: Usually sprained wrists stem from poor punching technique or not having your hands wrapped properly.
Treatment: Learn how to punch yo! Also learn how to wrap your hands correctly and make sure your boxing gloves are on nice and snug.
Cause: Getting punch, kicked or kneed in the ribs.
Treatment: Stop getting punch, kicked or kneed in the ribs. Take some time off from sparring and just use some common sense!
Cause: If you are training on carpet or tough material the friction from your foot and the ground will create blisters, especially when you are twisting while throwing a strike (mainly a kick.).
Treatment: Man the f*#! up! No seriously, that is probably not the best way to go about it. Like most injuries, resting it will do it the most good, or at the very least try to avoid kicking on carpet. If your blister is big, getting it drained by a local physician might be your best option.
DO NOT PICK AT YOUR BLISTER. I know it’s gross and entertaining, but it will do more harm than good. If for whatever reason you can not control your sick ways and you tear open your blister, then make sure to wash it wish soap and water. You should also rub some anti-bacterial ointment on it with a bandage placed on top. Make sure to change the bandage daily or whenever it gets super dirty. If it gets infected, go to the hospital!
Cause: Being a pansy.
Treatment: Stop being a pansy. If it is really hurting that bad, just work on your boxing for a few days while your shins heal or wear shin guards when you do kicking drills. Besides that, doing some sort of shin conditioning can be a major help in preventing you from becoming a pansy.
Doing light sparring without shin guards and kicking hard heavy bags (or banana trees if you want to be like Buakaw) are the two most common, practical ways to build your shin strength.
If your shins are really jacked up and swollen, Sylvie has a great video demonstrating how to treat your shins and flush out the excess fluid.
Cause: Sprains suck because they seem to take forever to heal. They are usually caused by twisting your ankle or foot when running, doing pad work, sparring, or any other form of training.
Treatment: To prevent these injuries, doing ankle and calf strengthening exercises like calf raises are a good idea. If you end up still spraining your ankle or foot, the old fashion formula of R.I.C.E is recommended (rest, ice, compression, elevation) although there are more studies coming out stating that it might not the best option.
Cause: People yanking on your neck during clinch sessions.
Treatment: Make sure to warm up your neck before clinching by stretching it out. You can also do some neck strengthening exercises like the ones demonstrated in this detailed article or this one demonstrated here by Sylvie.
Obviously there are other Muay Thai injuries not listed here, but fortunately there are communities and other websites that will be able to help you figure out a solution.
Although some of these injuries can suck, it is important to know how to work around them so you can continue to improve your conditioning and technique. Be smart though! Know when to rest and learn how to listen to your body!
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