Muay Thai kickboxing is popularly referred to as “art of eight limbs” for some reason. Being a Muay Thai practitioner, you are taught fighting with the fists, knees, elbows & shins in the brutal, martial art designed for taking the opponent down. Strike anything at the combat force by using bare bones that are going to hurt.
You are highly unlikely to wear Muay Thai shin guards in the match situation, you must condition the shins for delivering the strong kicks as hard as possible & being able to endure the punishment for blocking and returning strikes and simply absorb the energy.
If your shins are weak or lack power just after throwing a kick or two, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to move your shins effectively & will be at the losing end of the fight. As with muay thai, the majority of the training will be considered conditioning & repetition. Your bones will be conditioned for the peak performance.
Reps engrave your moves & responses into the procedural memory so you will think regarding planning for fights without bogging yourself down by technical details. Conditioning your shins will improve the performance by boosting the bones density & muscle mass, it will add momentum to the blows. Also desensitization, however doesn’t completely deaden the pain receptors, lessen the natural propensity for pulling the strikes for safety.
Process of Shin Conditioning
Human body is a biological machine. When given proper nutrients, workout & rest, it will condition itself in all ways by staying in the limitations. Your body adapts to the injuries: each time an injury happens, your body starts healing itself in a more resilient manner so for the next time it is harder for receiving any injury. It’s a basic idea about how working out improves the muscles. Your bones break down constantly & reform. Your cells are referred to as osteoclasts for breaking down old bone and osteoblasts form the renewed bone tissue. Striking on the hard surfaces by using the bone creates microfractures. Those are tiny fractures present in your bone. Your body can identify the weak points & prioritizes the repair.
With the occurrence of these microfractures your body recognizes the problem & generates calcium deposits at the top of those damaged areas. The process involves the fusion of the 2 layers & strengthening process is referred as ossification. Human muscles work in the same way. Working out your muscle to its threshold creates the tears, which they manifest as the soreness when they are done exercising. Your body utilizes the additional protein that has been consumed after you are done working out for rebuilding your torn muscles & strengthening them.
Your body needs proper time and nutrition for healing. At temptation of progress can do greater damage than good. Patience & hard work both are the keys to your progress.
Science Behind Shin Conditioning
Human body works in incredible ways, & a huge part revolves around conditioning it. As long as you keep on supplying proper nutrients, workout, rest & repetition. It’s perfect that the body will be able to get better adapted to injuries whether it’s receiving blows from muay thai gloves or raw kicks.
Each time you get an injury, the body starts healing itself in a way that it gets harder & harder to sustain that injury again. Repetition is the most important part of shin injuries. As you strike some solid surface, let it be the heavy punching bag or your opponent in the fighting ring the bones suffer microfractures. For letting this happen, you must show patience & hard work. You must give the body appropriate recovery time and nutrition for proper healing.
Benefits Of Shin Conditioning
We have already discussed why you must condition your shins-stronger attack & tougher defense – but it has the following benefits as well.
Lesser sensitive nerves: Each time you try to condition the shins by the heavy impact, your nerves freak out & start sending the signals to the brain. Such signals are called pain. By receiving those attacks on the shins desensitized and send lesser pain signals to the brain each time.
Denser tibias & fibulas: Ossification occurs in the shins increasing the bone mass of both tibia & fibula, which makes them bigger & tougher.
Muscles having higher strength: Same as your bones, they get stronger after recovery, by conditioning the shins through repetitive training, muscles in the legs suffer microtears, as it happens, the body starts repairing in a way that muscles heals and get bigger.
Improved Form: As it’s said practice makes a man perfect. repetition & conditioning does improve the form. It does not matter if you are attacking the heavy bag repeatedly this will only improve your form.
Lesser hesitation in the ring: No matter you realize it your reaction time heavily depends heavily upon so many factors. Important ones are your previous experience & fear of pain. By conditioning the shins your nerves become sensitive & you will find fast natural reactions.
Shin Conditioning Workouts
Better shin conditioning combines various workouts for strengthening the legs in different ways. You can practice these shin conditioning workouts at your home as well.
1) Heavy Bag Training
Conventional Muay Thai training consists of kicking things such as bamboo & banana trees. You can start with anything which has some flexibility. Otherwise, my Thai career will end with broken legs which won’t heal. The heavy bag is the best friend when it comes to solo training drills. Your heavy bag should weigh enough that it provides enough resistance for simulating kicking via flexibility for dispersing momentum of the leg. Rubber mulch-composite cushioning will work best.
We would suggest you not to use sand as it settles & hardens, especially when you are wet it might feel like cement. Double check for the support if the bag is strong enough. Bag coming off from the hanger can cause serious damage. Also check rips & tears. If there’s any signs of weakness just replace it. Just make contact with the bag by using your inner & outer shin muscles instead of the bone. Get in the proper form while you do heavy bag training.
Keep the body square & rotate the arm for additional power. Save the dominant hand for blocking the strikes. The beginners must have the instructor standing so he can correct the technical errors.
Shin conditioning requires the healthy dose for free sparring & performing technical drills. You must have a for this type of training. Make sure you start by utilizing lighter shin guards for the purpose of protection. As you develop control & confidence, shift to sparring with the partial contact & eventually do not use the shin guards if you aren’t comfortable.
Sparring gives you the opportunity for honing the fighting reflexes, improving the cardiovascular endurance & practicing kick blocking by using the shin. While you spar your prime focus should be improving the fundamentals. While keeping yourself relaxed as you move or attack till the impacting moment and tense muscles are done robbing the body. Absolute fundamental is breath control. Exhaling with the strikes, tensing the abdomen like you normally do.
3) Pad Work
This practice involves two partners for training. It involves the partner holding the kick pads and focus mitts for you to practice the kicks. Focus mitt is extremely useful in this training as it allows your partner to catch the blow & counter it with the high-line punch that forces you for evasion. Lighter footwork makes you harder to hit. If you are looking for some real challenge, the partner who is holding the pad can shift their location at the regular intervals.
4) Strength Training by lighter Weights
Major muscle in the shins is called tibialis anterior, that stretches from your kneecap to the ankle. It might not be prominent as your calf muscle when it’s developed fully but plays an important role for Muay Thai conditioning.
Weighted exercises for the tibialis anterior works on your toe areas. If you’ve access to the gym you can use it. It will be a good convenience. Hold dumbbells in a relaxed manner at your sides. By using the calves & shin muscles raise yourself to the tiptoe position in seconds. Try holding the weight for a few seconds then lower and keep on counting. Take a rest for a few seconds and repeat the workout. Perform as many reps as you possibly can. You can get started by holding 5 pounds in your hand and work your way up slowly.
Calf raises exercise work in the same manner, but they target the muscle on your rear leg. That muscle wraps around at the front, connects your kneecap, & is used for absorbing the impact. Calf raises exercise involves opposite motion for toe raises.
5) Increased Bone Density
This is the exercise that you might have seen in some movies. Rolling the metal tube alongside your shin. The medium does not necessarily have to be the metal, it can be just hard. Might not appear like a big deal, but it is surprisingly painful. The idea behind is practicing the compression on your shin bone. Compression of the bones makes them denser. It is important that you roll the tube with the shins evenly for getting a uniform coverage.