Is Muay Thai bad for your joints?
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
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Muay Thai training is hard and extremely taxing on your body. If you are someone that has joint issues, and is starting to think about training Muay Thai you might be thinking, is Muay Thai bad for your joints?
Muay Thai can be bad for your joints if you aren't careful during your training. Heavy sparring, taking excessive damage to your joints and improper technique can be bad for your joints when training in Muay Thai.
Ensuring that you train smartly and correctly will drastically reduce the damage that Muay Thai does to your joints, just like any other sport.
Can you get Arthritis from Muay Thai?
Arthritis is a common condition which causes pain and inflammation in the joint. Arthritis is often caused by either simply the joints degrading due to age, or excessive use.
Muay Thai will not cause arthritis, however if you are already suffering from the condition it can exacerbate the condition and lead to further pain.
Is Muay Thai bad for your knees?
Any sport, or form of activity, can be bad for your knees. Your knee joints will start to degrade overtime and the cartlidge in your knees can grind away under continued force and movement.
Muay Thai is only bad for your knees if you don't train correctly. Don't over exert yourself, don't take unnecessary punishment to your knee joints during sparring and also ensure that you use the correct technique when training to prevent damaging your knees.
Pay close attention your knee alignment, stance and kicks whilst training to help prevent knee injuries.
The most common knee injuries in Muay Thai are listed below.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. The ACL runs through the knee from the front of the shin bone (tibia) to the back of the thigh bone (femur) and prevents the tibia from pivoting or sliding out in front of the femur.
An ACL tear will typically occur in Muay Thai when a fighter suddenly changes direction or stops, which can cause the knee joint to and sift. An ACL tear may also occur from a direct kick to the knee joint. The majority of the ACL tears will require surgery.
A torn meniscus is an extremely common knee injury. A torn meniscus is caused by forcefully twisting or rotating your knee. A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling and stiffness. You also might feel a block to knee motion and have trouble extending your knee fully.
A Meniscus tear is often caused by a direct kick to the knee in Muay Thai, or by a fighter twisting their knee during a sudden movement. Treatment generally includes resting and icing the knee, however if this doesn't see a full recovery then surgery may be required.
A patella (kneecap) has the ability to dislocate from its normal position.
A patella dislocation in Muay Thai may occur from a direct blow to the knee, or from pivoting the femur (thigh bone) internally on a planted foot while bending the knee.
When a patella dislocation occurs, an orthopaedic specialist will begin treatment by relocating the kneecap into its proper position. Many fighters suffering from a first time dislocation respond well to non-surgical measures such as rest, modified activities and a physical therapy program. In certain cases or for those recurrent injuries, a surgical procedure may be required to repair significant bone or ligament damage caused as a result of the dislocation.
Can I do Muay Thai with bad knees?
Yes, you can do Muay Thai with bad knees, just ensure you cater your training to your knee problems and don't overdo it which will cause further problems.
If your knee problems are serious then you should get your doctor's opinion before you start Muay Thai training. Strengthening your knees via weights, stretching, and improving your knee alignment before you do Muay Thai will sharply reduce the risk of any knee injury.
Is Muay Thai bad for your hands?
You may have seen lots of hand injuries in western boxing, and be thinking is Muay Thai bad for your hands? Well, the answer is... yes, Muay Thai can be taxing on your hands, however hand injuries are not as regular in Muay Thai as they are in boxing.
The constant hitting of the heavy bag and pads will grind down your hands overtime and you will at some point, most likely, injury your hand training Muay Thai.
If you are new to Muay Thai, something you'll often suffer from during your first few training sessions, is trembling hands. People can often confuse this as an injury but it is not. The trembling is caused by adrenaline, fatigue and likely that the trauma that your hands have suffered during the training session. Trembling hands is something that will go away as you continue to train and your body gets more used to the sessions.
The most common hand injuries in Muay Thai are listed below.
Knuckle injuries are common in Muay Thai, especially if you are new to training. Your knuckles will need time to build up strength and durability from training to help protect them from the constant bashing against the bags and pads.
If you are new to Muay Thai, you may experience redness and bruising on your knuckles, and in some serious cases you may even see some swelling.
The majority of the common knuckle injuries that you suffer from will go away over time, and the redness and bruising will stop as your hands become more conditioned to the training.
If your knuckles do end up swelling, be sure to ice them 3-4 times per day for 15 - 20 minutes at a time. The ice will help prevent inflammation and reduce the swelling. Do not use your hand(s) until the pain has subsided and the swelling has reduced. If the pain persists or aggravates after several days, consult a doctor to get an Xray to see if anything is broken.
Boxers fracture, named due to the fact that it's an injury commonly seen in boxers, refers to the breaking of any of the metacarpal bones of the hand.
It's an injury that commonly occurs when punching with in-proper technique, and it can occur in any finger, however it's more prevalent in the ring and pinky finger. Boxers fracture should generally be treated with icing and plenty of rest, however if the pain continues or become excessive, you may need to seek medical advice.
To help prevent boxers fracture, ensure that you punch with the proper technique, and also wrap your hands using hand wraps to further help protect your hands.
Wrist injuries in Muay Thai are generally caused by repetitive strain, in-proper technique or punching too hard. They can also be caused by incorrect pad holding, Muay Thai pads are heavy and if your partner holds them incorrectly, or forcefully moves them towards your hand, this may result in your wrists becoming injured.
If your wrists become injured during Muay Thai, take a break from training and give them plenty of time and rest in order to recover. If your wrists are overly bruised, swollen or painful then you may need to consider seeking medical advice as the injury may not heal by simply resting it.
Proper technique, wearing hand wraps, and using wrist strengthening exercises can help to prevent wrist injuries in Muay Thai.
Am I too old to start Muay Thai?
No, you can never be too old to start Muay Thai! I have seen people as young as 4 years old in the gym and as old as 70+ years old. Muay Thai is a great sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
If you are older and worried about starting Muay Thai training, then don't worry. The great thing about Muay Thai is that you can often train at your own pace, and you'll be able to work around any of the things that you struggle with.
Find the right coach to help you on your Muay Thai journey that understands you, and can ensure that you train safely and correctly whilst still getting all the enjoyment from your Muay Thai training.
Tips for helping to look after your joints
There is several things that you can do to help look after your joints and prevent joint injuries during your Muay Thai training.
Maintain a healthy body weight
Carrying excessive body weight is extremely damaging for your joints. Maintaining a healthy body weight will help to reduce the impact on your joints, and weight loss has been linked to helping with knee pain, function, and stiffness associated with knee osteoarthritis.
Many people with arthritis resist regular physical activity or exercise because they fear it will increase pain or further damage their joints. Movement eases joint stiffness, reduces joint pain, strengthens the muscles which surround the joints.
Strengthen your muscles
Strengthening the muscles around your joints will help to support the joints, and take some of the pressure off the joints. With proper strength training, you will increase the stability of your joints, while decreasing pain.
Take plenty of vitamin C and Calcium
Vitamin C and calcium are two nutrients that are required for healthy bones. Vitamin C is actually needed for calcium absorption. You can obtain vitamin C through sun exposure, diet, or supplementation.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Reducing inflammation is part of keeping arthritis symptoms under control and improving overall joint health. An anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that increase inflammation while including more foods that decrease inflammation.
Products you can use to protect your joints
A knee brace is a great way to help support your knee when training Muay Thai. The additional support from the brace will help to prevent you twisting or over straining your knee, and reduce your risk of the common knee injuries occurred in Muay Thai such as an ACL tear.
Our recommended knee brace for Muay Thai:
Twisting or straining your ankle can be a common injury in Muay Thai, especially for beginners who kick with incorrect technique. Ankle supports will help provide your ankles with the additional support that they need to help prevent injury.
Our recommended ankle supports for Muay Thai:
Knuckle and wrist injuries are common in Muay Thai and a good pair of hand wraps will help not only to protect your knuckles, but provide your wrist and thumb with additional support to help prevent them being bent and injured.
Our recommended hand wraps for Muay Thai:
How to wrap your hands for Muay Thai:
In the video below, world champion Muay Thai fighter Liam Harrison showcases in a simple tutorial how to wrap your hands.
Correctly wrapped hands will help too minimise the impact on the knuckles when hitting the pads, the heavy bag and sparring.
Muay Thai is only bad for your joints if you train unsafely, and incorrectly, just like any other sport. There are several joint injuries which do commonly occur in Muay Thai however with proper technique and safe training you minimise the risk of these injuries occurring.
Running can be damaging for your knees and constant running puts pressure on your knee joints and grinds away the cartilage, this is something to consider if you run as part of your Muay Thai training.