The Truth about Shin Conditioning

The Truth about Shin Conditioning

If you’ve just started Muay Thai you might have seen the more experienced guys in the gym hammering heavy kicks into the bag or pads, but when you tried to do the same it was just plain painful.

This is because your shins aren’t conditioned to throwing kicks yet, but there’s a lot of weird ideas when it comes to the best way to condition your shins, with loads of common misconceptions about the whole process. Fight Quality is about to clear all that up, by talking through some of the common myths you hear, and then the best way to actually harden up your shins for murderous kicks.

The Myths:

Glass Bottles

One of the first suggestions to pop up when you start looking into shin conditioning. The idea is that rolling a glass bottle up and down your shin makes ‘deadens the nerves’ to make you able to take more pain. Truth is, it doesn’t, and it hurts way more than it sounds like it should.

Rolling Pin

There’s a couple ways we’ve heard of rolling pins being used, the first is the same as a glass bottle, being rolled up and down. The second is like a bat, knocking it against your shins over and over again. Or having a sadistic training partner do it, because the realistically it’ll hurt too much to do it to yourself. All in all, good way to get bruises, not so great way to harden your shins.

Kicking Walls

You’ve seen kickboxer right? Channel your inner Tong-Po and kick the shit out of a concrete pillar. What could go wrong? If you need it explained why this probably isn’t the most sensible or sustainable way to condition your shins, I’m not sure that we can help you.

Banana Trees

This is the classic one, because everyone’s see that Buakaw video. For one thing, banana trees don’t grow everywhere, so even if you find one cutting it down means you’ve just lost your training equipment. Also, it’s a way of showing off how hard you’ve gotten your shins after years of training. Don’t jump in the deep end before you’ve learnt to swim.

The Reality:

Running

Most fighters run as part of their training. While this is one of a few approaches to cardio that are needed to create a well rounded athlete pounding pavement serves a dual purpose – the repeated impact has been shown to increase bone density in the legs. Dense shins = Hard shins.

Weightlifting

In the same vein as running, weightlifting has been shown to increase bone density. Squats, deadlifts, lunges and all the other lower body exercises that you can be doing to improve your strength and explosiveness will also be working in the background to get your bones stronger.

Kicking Heavy Bags and Pads, Sparring and Other Muay Thai Training

This is the shocker; Training Muay Thai itself will harden your shins. There’s a reason that the experienced guys can kick a heavy bag way harder than you – they’ve done it time and time again and developed the shin conditioning that you’re searching for. Unfortunately you can’t really take a shortcut, you just have to keep doing it over and over, which brings us onto the final thing that’s crucial for shin conditioning:

Time

It takes time. Basically what you’re doing is microscopically breaking down the bone throughout your training, and then when it heals it heals stronger than before. This isn’t a quick process, and as we just said, there aren’t any shortcuts to get there. Just like the whole process of learning a martial art, you need to put in the reps, put in the time and the results will come.

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