If you’re beginning your Muay Thai training, you might have heard about shin conditioning as a part of your regime.
Strong shins will help you better be able to throw harder kicks without damaging your body, while also helping you to block kicks that come your way.
I’ve heard a lot of misinformation about shin conditioning over the years though, which is why I’d like to set the record straight about why and how shin conditioning should be a part of your training regime.
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About Shin Conditioning
When you train your body, you put your muscles under a lot of stress. No matter what part of your body you’re training, your body will be damaged before it repairs itself while you’re resting.
This is true of shin conditioning too, although you’ll be dealing with tiny bone fractures instead of damaged muscles in this instance.
When you repeatedly use your shins to hit a pad or bag, your shins repeatedly heal themselves and make themselves stronger through the process known as ossification.
The bone becomes denser as new bone tissue is formed and the bone is made thicker.
I’ve heard that shin conditioning destroys nerves from a few sources, but rest assured that this is incorrect. Your shins simply become denser and more desensitized as you condition them.
You also become more capable of withstanding pain, which is why you may feel less over time.
How to condition your shins for Muay Thai
There’s a lot of incorrect information out there on how to condition your shins for Muay Thai.
For instance, you should never just hit your shins against a tree to try and kick down the tree like Buakaw. This is sure to damage your shins if they’re not trained right.
Instead, it’s best to work diligently, treat your bruises, and follow these key points so that your training goes well.
Use the Right Technique
Before you start kicking out randomly, make sure that you’re kicking with the right part of your shin. This would be the front or outer part of the shin.
To connect, be sure to twist or rotate your hips efficiently when you kick out. Without the proper form and balance, you’ll end up kicking in the wrong area, which will hurt immediately.
Start low and gently until you have the right positioning and technique.
Endurance and Patience
Getting those rock-hard shins takes time. You can’t rush this process, and you can’t stop simply because it costs time and pain either.
It’s important to keep going every day while still dealing with the pain and discomfort when you first begin, and to build up your endurance. In a fight, your body needs to be able to hold up for all five rounds.
To this end, you might start jogging or running to help build up bone density. Weight training has the ability to increase your bone density as well, while also improving the strength of your muscles.
Heavy Bag Kicking
This repetitive exercise is an important way to strengthen your shins. It will of course take time and effort, since your shins will not calcify and harden overnight, but kicking the heavy bag is crucial.
If you’re new to Muay Thai, start with 100 kicks for each leg and advance to more if you feel like you’re capable. This will help increase your stamina and technique.
Even if you’re a seasoned fighter though, it’s still important to train your shins with the heavy bag.
More training will continually work to add more strength to your shins. If you want extra density though, try adding more clothing or rags to your bag.
Working with another person, a real-life opponent, is one of the best ways to help your shins get stronger. First start by sparring with protective equipment like thinner shin pads.
These are a great tool for shin conditioning without weighing yourself down too much. They will still hurt though even as you try different combinations and techniques.
You can also try sparring without gear in a calm and more technical manner.
Use this time to work on your combinations without worrying about a painful kick. Don’t go all-out without gear though, since you’ll certainly end up in more pain than is normal.
Get Some Rest
Training isn’t all about action. Sometimes, it’s important to rest. When your shins are badly bruised, you can’t keep up your normal regime with all those injuries.
Give yourself some time to rest by training other parts of your body until your shins are strong enough to continue.
Why is it important in Muay Thai?
Kicking out with your legs is inevitable in Muay Thai, meaning that those shins must be strong enough to withstand both your kicks and the kicks that you block.
If you try to kick out without any conditioning, it’s likely that you will hurt yourself. Shin splints are especially common if you don’t take care of yourself properly.
This condition is very painful and will put you out of commission for a while until it heals.
As you start your training, remember to always work within your limits. Don’t do more than you’re capable of or hit with more force than you’re able to when you’re just starting out.
Also remember to give yourself the proper recovery time so as not to aggravate your shins further.
I’ve seen many fighters go too far too fast, so be sure to let your body rest properly in between sessions.
Some Muay Thai fighters work on their shins too quickly and without the proper technique and this can result in unnecessary injuries.
It may be tempting to put your full strength into every kick when you’re just starting out, but it’s best to take your time and train diligently for the best results.
Follow these training tips and tricks for the most effective shin conditioning regime that will strengthen your shins without causing you unnecessary pain.