If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to relieve sore shin pain.. Well, let’s just say I would be a rich man. Shin conditioning in Muay Thai can be one of the most painful and excruciating experiences one will go through. I remember my first Muay Thai training session was filled with many bumps and bruises, partly because I didn’t know how to throw a proper roundhouse kick yet. However shin conditioning is something that we all had to go through at some point, I still go through some shin pain when I hit hard on the heavy bag.
Shin pain is something that we all have to go through, however it doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. There are many products that I’ve used in the past that have helped me out tremendously. I wish I knew back then what I know now, it would’ve helped save me from the hundreds of painful training sessions that I had to endure. My shins now have permanent nerve damage from hitting the heavy bag and Thai pads thousands of times.
What Causes Shin Pain in Muay Thai?
Shin conditioning is a necessary part of your Muay Thai training. Everyone is different, some people take longer to heal when it comes to shin conditioning. The reason why you must train your shins in Muay Thai is because your shins must be able to withstand much damage, not only from kicking your opponent, but also checking kicks. I understand not everyone’s goal is to go out and compete, however it’s still important to be able to workout on the heavy bag or hit Thai pads without feeling too much pain.
Shin pain in Muay Thai is caused by overuse of the shins or throwing powerful kicks. Although I recommend a certain Muay Thai workout, I also think it’s important to ease into harder Muay Thai workouts that require more technical and powerful kicks. You don’t want to go 100% right away, this is how fighters get injured. Remember, it’s common to feel pain from kicking in Muay Thai, however you still should be smart with how you train.
When you first start Muay Thai, no matter how hard you hit the bag your shins will still become black and blue. This is because you have never conditioned your shins to take damage before. It’s not out of the ordinary for this type of pain to last a few days, however when it lasts longer than weeks at a time you should definitely ease up on your training sessions. Shin pain is common so there is no need to be concerned, just please be smart with your training.
How To Relieve Shin Pain
Believe it or not there are many things you can do to get relief from Muay Thai shin pain. The first one I recommend is trying out Namman Muay Thai Liniment. This product was first brought to my attention when training in Phuket, Thailand. Many Thai fighters rub this stuff all over their entire body (not that I do that myself), however it does help me tremendously with my shin pain. I put this on my shins after a hard training sessions and it helps them recover much faster.
There are also other products, such as Tiger Balm. Some Muay Thai fighters will only use Tiger Balm and claim that Namman doesn’t work as well, however it really depends on the individual. It’s all opinionated, however I promise that both of these products will give you relief from shin pain. No matter which brand of shin relief you use, please wash your hands after dealing with any type of Thai oil. If you touch your eyes while having that oil on your hands, I promise you that you’ll be in a world of pain much worse than shin pain.
How To Properly Condition Shins
Shin Pain in Muay Thai is something that is comes along with shin conditioning. Conditioning of the shins takes a lot of time so you must understand that patience is important. You don’t have to go full Buakaw and start kicking banana trees or full Tony Ferguson kicking steel pipes, however you should be consistent with your shin conditioning. I recommend having a strict Muay Thai workout that you follow consistently. It’s important to apply some type of Muay Thai oil (that we mentioned above) after hard training sessions so that you can properly heal.
If you’re determined enough it’s only a matter of time until you fully condition your shins. However in the meantime you should follow our tips below:
1. Focus on Technique First
Technique should always come before power, just like fundamentals should come before flashy moves. To conditioning your shin correctly, you have to be able to hit with the right part of the shin. You must twist/rotate your hips sufficiently in order to hit with the correct part of the shin. If your technique is off in the slightest you may have problems in the long run. This is why it’s important to have good technique from the beginning, it sets the stage for perfection. Good form will avoid many Muay Thai related injuries, such as breaking toes or bones in your foot.
I have broken almost every toe in my left foot (which is why I recommend proper technique so much!)
2. Kick Heavy Bags Consistently
This may seem like an obvious tip, however some people don’t realize how important it is to be consistent on the heavy bag. Depending on your training circumstances, usually gyms have a range of heavy bags from soft to hard. I recommend that you start by kicking the softer heavy bag and gradually building up a resistance to shin pain. Before you know it you’ll be kicking the heaviest bag in the gym with no problem. I also recommend doing some Thai pad work because this allows the shin bone to harden over time.
3. Spar with Thinner Shin Guards
I know this may seem painful at first, but real-life combat is the best way to condition your shins. I don’t recommend doing this until you’ve already conditioned your shins to a certain degree. This type of practice is also only good if your opponent is okay with it as well, thinner shin guards means less protection for them also. If you need some recommendations for good shin guards I highly recommend our Ultimate Guide to Shin Guards.
4. Rest and Relax
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you, make sure to take time off when your shins are hurting and bruised. This is also good advice for all parts of your body, remember that your shins aren’t the only parts hurting. A good part of your growth will come from the resting periods where you heal the parts of your body that were destroyed from training. Rest is absolutely vital for your shins to heal after Muay Thai training, similar to how rest is vital for your muscles to heal after weight lifting.
Muay Thai is a beautiful Martial Art that isn’t for the weak of heart. You must realize that Thai fighters are made of granite, they stand and trade unlike any other Martial Art. You must condition your body to be able to take irreparable damage, especially if you have dreams of one day competing in Muay Thai. This guide will help you condition your shins while also relieving shin pain that comes with training Muay Thai. If you’re a beginner who is looking to start training Muay Thai I suggest you visit our article on what to expect from your first Muay Thai Class.