No one ever called Muay Thai the gentle way. The world is not perfect and at some point we all get hurt. When you train with an injury it is important to train intelligently. Many students exacerbate the injury repeatedly by doing the same technique that caused the injury in the first place.
Muay Thai is awesome and everyone wants to get back to training as soon as possible. However while injured you need to modify your training so that you are able to recover to 100%. This is especially difficult for people to adhere to when they have been training for an upcoming fight. Instead of letting the injury heal people will make it worse and potentially have to pull out of the fight.
Always alert your coach to any injuries you may have. It’s important that you both be on the same page. This will allow your coach to help modify your training so you don’t aggravate your injury. Your coach can also make sure you are working with the more controlled and experienced students to help keep you safe.
Do not spar if you have sustained a concussion. Take time off and see your doctor right away. Don’t try to be a tough guy and fight through the pain. Head trauma is serious and additional damage at this point will be much worse.
Do not spar with rib or jaw injuries. Let them heal. Rib injuries can be pretty limiting and you may need to stick with just footwork and shadowboxing until you heal up.
Do no spar if you have cuts on your face. Lacerations stop fights. You see it all the time, guys with lots of scar tissue in their face cut more easily. Excessive scarring around the eyes can develop into a weakness for fighters. Get the cuts cleaned out and properly covered to allow healing with minimal scarring.
For minor hand injuries often times you can adjust your wrapping style. I recommend having long hand wraps. 190 inches and up. With long wraps you can reinforce the knuckles, the wrist or the thumb depending on what is bothering you. another option is to double up and use two hand wraps on the same hand. Some people will put a pad or a sponge over their knuckles before putting on the hand wrap to provide additional protection.
For more serious hand injuries you need to stop punching things! This simple concept is difficult for many people to accept. For pad work you can replace all punches on that side with elbows. For sparing try sparing with only kicks or work from within the clinch.
If you get a bone bruise on your lower shin stop kicking with that leg until you heal up. With a bone bruise on the upper shin you may still be able to kick pads and bags. Listen to your body! When working combinations replace kicks from the injured side with knees or teeps. You could injure your leg in a fight and be unable to throw kicks, so training this way will give you alternative game plans your can fall back on.
One of my favorite sparring games is to use punching and round knees. This drill helps you develop new and better knee strike set ups. You can focus on your punch technique and develop a dirty boxing game. If your legs are up to it work on your clinch fighting.
Do not spar with a weapon until you can throw it full power on a bag or pad. Many times I have seen fighters test out a hurt hand or shin by tapping a heavy bag with it. They hit at half power (or less) and decide they are now fit to spar. Even though you are only sparring things will be chaotic. People almost always end up re-injuring themselves because they didn’t want to wait an extra week to heal up.
Being injured is also a great time to work on the opposite stance. Practice all the techniques you can from your home stance, and then switch it up and learn to attack from the other side. This is a good way to follow along with a class if the combinations/techniques you’re working on are on your injured side. It will help keep things from getting to boring.
So if you get hurt be smart and let your body heal. However most of the time you will be able to continue training in some capacity. Take this time to work on your weaknesses and you will be a better overall martial artist when you’re feeling one hundred percent again.
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