Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, Roxy Vivien Coaching may earn a commission. The price of the item is the same whether it is an affiliate link or not. I only recommend products or services I have personally tried or believe will be of good value to my readers. By using affiliate links, you are helping support my writing of free articles in the Learning Hub on this site. Thank you! 🙂 - Roxy Vivien
Muay Thai Fighter on Thai Pads

“My _____ hurts. Is this normal?” I must have heard this question from new students over 1,000 times in my coaching career. While minor Muay Thai injuries are common, they don’t have to be. I’ll show you how to prevent physical Muay Thai mishaps, and if something is nagging you, I’ll give you tips to get back to training quicker.

Now, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say with 100% certainty what’s going on with your body, nor can I diagnose any injury.

However, I know Muay Thai, and I understand the most common tweaks, bumps, bruises, aches, and pains that beginners experience. Based on my time in the sport, I can advise how to prevent some of these annoying aches and pains.


First, there is no such thing as “normal” pain. All pain is abnormal; it’s a sign something is off. You can avoid common Muay Thai injuries by listening to your body. With simple precautions, coaches and students can make Muay Thai training a safer and more enjoyable experience.

When you’re starting a new sport, there is a huge learning curve for the mind and body. Your neurotransmitters are firing at warp speed to help you learn, move, and retain new info.

Unfortunately, when underlying issues are present, your physical body doesn’t cooperate with the learning process as quickly as the mind wants.

You may also want to check out my blog: Tips for Muay Thai Beginners.

Factors that Increase Muay Thai Injury Risk

  • Lack of mobility
  • Poor posture
  • Lack of body awareness
  • Increasing volume/intensity of exercise too quickly
  • Prioritizing power over technique
  • Lack of sleep
  • Skipping soft tissue work (foam roller/trigger point)
  • Dehydration
  • Poor nutrition

Having one or more of the above can make you more likely to experience more aches and pains with any athletic endeavor.

sitting too much - muay thai injuries

We are now a “sitting culture.” We drive, work, and often relax, seated. To combat the ill effects sitting has on our health, we created the fitness industry.

Today, we sit more than ever, and many kids today grow up without P.E in school and even more never play sports. 

In our “sitting culture,” popularizing intense workouts, like Muay Thai means many adults begin training with poor mobility, body awareness, and recovery practices.

You CAN train and avoid common Muay Thai injuries! 

Here’s what I’ll be covering in this article to help you through your journey as pain-free as possible: 

  • The most common physical complaints from Muay Thai students
  • The changes your body will go through when starting Muay Thai
  • Things to consider when deciding the difference between an injury and the discomfort
  • How to prevent everyday aches and pains
  • How to care for your body with proper recovery techniques


It’s common to have soreness for 1-3 days after a Muay Thai workout when you first start Muay Thai or come back after a long break. 

Soreness is NOT an indication that you got a better workout than on days when you aren’t sore. 

Nor does soreness mean you did something wrong or must take a day off.

Once your body has adapted to training Muay Thai, you will experience less soreness or soreness only when you do a new drill or exercise or when you increase your volume or intensity of training.

It’s common for students new to exercise to get freaked out by the soreness, thinking they hurt themselves. In my experience, this is unlikely if you had a proper warm-up and an experienced coach who challenged you but didn’t push you too hard in your first-week training. 

Think your extreme soreness is unique? Here’s what to consider…

Factors That Increase Soreness Level:

  • No prior experience with a rotational sport
  • No prior experience with kicks or lower body sports 
  • You don’t drink enough water
  • You have a lower pain tolerance than most people

The most common factors are lack of prior exercise or dehydration. Make sure to drink ample water the day before, day of, and after training. 

Hydration before training can help prevent injuries. 

hydrate to prevent muay thai injuries

Hydration Benefits:

  • Improved mental sharpness
  • Lubricated Joints
  • Improved performance
  • Better temperature regulation (prevents overheating)
  • Reduction in muscle cramping

Muscle strains, tears, and bone fractures are common effects of exercising with tense, cramped muscles, so keep hydrated!

While many athletes drink sports drinks, coconut water, and other alternative sources of hydration, water is the best choice for most students taking an average 60-90 minute class. It’s unlikely you need the extra sugar/calories in a sports drink unless you are training for a long duration or in sweltering temperatures.  

If you’re concerned about electrolytes loss via sweat, add a small pinch of sea salt to your water.


The only time it’s crucial to be concerned about muscle soreness is if you are peeing blood, which can indicate a condition called rhabdomyolysis or “rhabdo.”

I have never seen anyone get rhabdo from a Muay Thai workout in all my years in the sport. 

I’ve only seen rhabdo occur from very high rep pull-ups, push-ups, or other or repetitive lifting workouts like CrossFit. If you are taking statins (cholesterol-lowering medication), you’ll be more susceptible to rhabdomyolysis.


If you are starting a sport like Muay Thai without prior experience with high-intensity workouts or combat sports, start SLOW.

Train three or four times a week on non-consecutive days. If you are starting Muay Thai and want to keep strength training, try three days of one and 2 of the other. 

It is not necessary to rest until you are not sore at all. Second-day soreness (DOMS) is often worse than next-day soreness, making new students nervous about training, but it’s a common occurrence.

Stick to your new training plan unless there is another type of pain that suggests injury. Once you warm up and start moving around, you’ll feel better. Sitting at your desk is not going to make the soreness go away. You need to move and stretch! You can always go lighter with less intensity if needed; it’s the technique that’s important to learn in the beginning anyway.

Lastly, I suggest you invest in a foam roller and a lacrosse ball. Using these tools helps speed recovery and help prevent injury.  Make sure to foam roll in conjunction with stretches and mobility exercises.

Foam Rolling for Muay Thai Injury Prevention


Shin conditioning is a necessary part of Muay Thai training. It takes longer than others to develop the hardened shins needed for sparring and fighting for some students. To have limbs that withstand Muay Thai fight competition, you will probably experience some minor Muay Thai shin injuries and must provide the necessary shin care TLC before your legs are ready to check kicks without shin guards.

Learning to check kicks in sparring is not everyone’s goal. Some students train just for fun and fitness. However, there’s always some level of shin conditioning needed to kick Thai pads and heavy bags.

When I first started Muay Thai, my shins were black and blue most days. I used to bruise easily. I had “baby shins.”  After 2, maybe three years, my body adapted to the constant pounding on bags and pads, and the bruises became less frequent.

Using your body as a weapon will hurt a little, but don’t worry!  If your shins ache, bump or bruise after kicking pads or heavy bags, you probably didn’t break anything. 

Trust me, a stress fracture of your shin feels horrible. You will probably know if it’s broken. It feels like a lightning bolt going up your leg every time you touch it. Unless you have very brittle bones, a fracture usually only occurs from shin to shin contact in fights, rarely in training – assuming you are wearing good protection (we’ll get to that).

You’ll commonly get simple bruises or shin bumps in Muay Thai. Mainly these occur from sparring and hitting an elbow or knee by mistake, but they can also happen by kicking the edge of a Thai pad the wrong way. 

Heal Minor Muay Thai Shin Injuries Faster:

  • Ice
  • Thai Oil (Liniment)
  • Massage

If you need an acronym, it spells “IOMP,” which incidentally is kind of like the sound you might make when you hit your already bruised shin on the coffee table and try to stifle your screams.

ICE – Ice helps lower the swelling of a shin lump in the first 24-48 hours. However, if you are continually kicking pads with banged-up shins, as all fighters must do, icing most days after training can help with continued swelling and inflammation.

For three years, I spent every day after training eating dinner on the couch and icing my shins for twenty to thirty minutes.

I found a bag of frozen peas to work best. After diligently icing all those years, my baby shins gave way to hardened shins, and soon I rarely bruised at all. 

You don’t need to stop training because of a shin bump. Most of the time shins only need a few days to heal. After the bruise begins to darken, massage it after a hot bath or shower or before training. Use Thai Liniment, a menthol oil fighters use to warm their muscles before training and competition.

Thai Liniment helps numb the shins a bit while you train, so the bruises hurt less. The oil also makes it easier to rub out a bump in your shins, which is sometimes done by those who can bear it immediately after the contusion occurs. (I don’t recommend you try this without a professional). 

It’s important to remember to wash your hands after you put on Thai oil. A swipe in the eye of Liniment, and you will be crying.  Or worse, you forget to wash your hands before using the bathroom.

Muay Thai Shin Injury Care "Thai Oil"

Thai Liniment helps numb the shins a bit while you train, so the bruises hurt less. The oil also makes it easier to rub out a bump in your shins, which is sometimes done by those who can bear it immediately after the contusion occurs. I strongly don’t recommend you try this without a professional coach.

It’s important to remember to wash your hands after you put on Thai oil. A swipe in the eye of Liniment, and you will be crying.  Or worse, you forget to wash your hands before using the bathroom.


If the bump is nasty, you might have a deep bone bruise. These can take a longer time to heal, usually 2 -6 weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop training. If one shin hurts to kick with, use the other, or practice knees or teeps instead.

The remarkable thing about Muay Thai is it’s the art of eight limbs, not two, so if one of your weapons is busted, you still have seven.

I’ve trained Muay Thai with a swollen hand, bloody elbows, bruised knees, and bumpy shins. While it’s never required to exercise with minor Muay Thai injuries, you can certainly work around the small stuff if you are otherwise healthy and want to train.


One last note about shin conditioning, it is not necessary to kick hard objects like trees or metal posts to get stronger. There is no point in intentionally damaging your shins for conditioning. The goal is to harden them over time, which will happen with regular training.

Kick hard pads, kick heavy bags, spar with shin guards, and take care of your bumps and bruises with the IOMP method, and over time your shins will be fight-ready. 

Let’s recap…

Shin Conditioning Fundamentals:

  1. Kick hard pads and bags
  2. Ice shins after training (20-30 mins)
  3. Thai Oil Massage before training

Don’t be the YouTube idiot who tries to take out the tree with a low kick! Stick to the basics.

If you are reading this blog, you are probably not a seasoned Thai fighter training since the age of five, in which case, the tree always wins.

roxy vivien "roxy balboa" fighter high kick

Roxy Balboa (USA) vs. Sheree Halliday (UK), Quiet Canyon, CA. July 2010


I think that bruises and scars are badass when you get them doing something cool. However, I’m a fighter, and I understand that not everyone feels the same way. A visible injury, no matter how minor,  can be a burden on some people’s personal or professional life.

Ladies! Let’s talk about Muay Thai fashion for a minute. I’ve sported many dresses with bruises on my legs and never felt sexier. If you are a Muay Thai fighter or avid practitioner and some guy has a problem with your black and blue legs, they are probably not the guy for you.

But, I know, sometimes, you want to wear that cute skirt or dress without people staring at you; or maybe your best friend is pissed cause you ruined her wedding pictures looking like a leopard in heels – so, let’s talk about bruise prevention and care.

First, if you really can’t risk visible bruises on your body, I don’t recommend learning to spar. Just stick to pad work. In Los Angeles, I know quite a few actor friends, men and women, who love Muay Thai but don’t want to risk getting a black eye before an audition. 

When it comes to sparring, you will sometimes get visible bruises. If so, make the choice that is right for you when deciding to train. 

To assist healing, I’m a fan of this Arnica Bruise Cream which can help speed recovery by a couple of days.

Second, make sure you have your diet in check. A poor diet can make you more susceptible to bruises. If you bruise easily, it may be a sign of malnutrition. You may be lacking certain nutrients, like Iron, vitamin A, C, K, zinc, or essential fatty acids, or you might be protein deficient. These vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables, mainly green, leafy veggies. Eat more veggies, yo!

If you suspect your fruit and vegetable intake is low, you can supplement your diet with a quality multivitamin to help speed healing.

Veggies for Injury Prevention

Lastly, age and genetics play a role in bruising. If you eat well, get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated and still find you bruise easily, you may have thinner blood or weakened capillaries, a genetic disease, or an infection.


When you first learn to kick in Muay Thai, you’ll probably hit the top of your foot on the pad more than a few times. You are supposed to aim with your shin, but as a newbie, mistakes are common.

Slapping your foot across a hard pad does not feel awesome. Once you learn to kick properly, you will crush the Thai pads with your shin the right way.

There are three possible reasons you incorrectly kicked the pad with your foot.

  • Your aim is off
  • You did not turn your kick “over enough”
  • Your pad holder is holding the pads at the wrong angle
  • (Or all of the above)

If you often hit your foot kicking, ask your coach for technique tips. Here are some simple beginner tips I made for the body kick.


When you start sparring, it’s common to get foot or toe injuries. It’s hard to anticipate an opponent’s movement and easy to misjudge aim. Kicking an elbow or knee is simply a timing and aim issue. 

How do you prevent breaking a toe or bashing up your foot? Begin by sparring lightly with experienced partners. 

Sparring more advanced partners often means they have better control and can set the pace of the round for you. Just don’t hit them as hard as you can, or there will be paybacks 😉

Throwing teeps (push kicks) and body kicks when sparring is the number one cause of Muay Thai foot and toe injuries, as it’s easy to catch an elbow, so go light when you throw them and focus on aim and speed, not power.

muay thai sparring teep - common foot injuries

Most broken toes heal in six weeks without complications. Unless it’s a horrible break, a compound fracture, an open fracture, or a severe break to the big toe (which impedes walking), you can deal with most toe fractures with ice, bruising ointments, over the counter pain meds, and time. 

I sometimes used the “Buddy System” with a bum toe, where you tape the broken toe to the toe next to it, creating a splint of sorts. Taping a suspected broken toe can help alleviate pain if the break is simple and the bones are aligned, but if they are not it can cause more damage.

So, if you can’t put any weight on the toe, have a numb or tingling sensation, or if the toe is straight-up pointed in the wrong direction, you should see your doctor and get it evaluated. See this medical reference article from Patient.info, a comprehensive directory of evidence-based clinical information, for more help in determining your Muay Thai toe injury severity and care.

Knees make an excellent sub for kicks when you have shin, foot, or toe issues. Your knees and other strikes will get killer good – seven limbs instead of eight still leaves many options.

The key to training Muay Thai long term is prevention and adaptation – you need to figure out what you can safely do, pain-free, while still allowing recovery time for your minor injuries.


I have the smallest wrists known to man or woman, seriously. I jacked up my wrist, throwing shitty hooks for most of my career. I finally discovered that a palm-down hook was more wrist-friendly and gave me a better range for Muay Thai, but it was too late by that time. I had chronic wrist pain for the last three years of my career.

Don’t be dumb like me. 


Tips to Prevent Wrist Pain:

  • Always wrap your hands correctly before training
  • Invest in quality gloves
  • Never bend your wrist when punching
  • Make a tight first when you make an impact on any pad, bag, or person
  • Hit the target with the top two knuckles of your first
punch correctly to avid muay thai hand injuries

You should consistently be hitting with the index and middle finger knuckles with a perfectly straight wrist. Poorly thrown hooks create an uneven distribution of impact and will either cause chronic pain or injury if severe enough.

If wrist pain concerns you, invest in gloves with added wrist support, like the Hayabusa T3 Gloves.

I also suggest 2-inch athletic tape for added protection. Secure the wrist a couple of times with the athletic tape before putting on your wrap. Make sure you put the tape on while you are making a fist with a straight wrist.

Don’t cut off your circulation. You want a wrist that won’t bend during training, but don’t get overzealous and make your hand go numb.

If possible, tape and wrap your hands after jumping rope, so you can make it secure. Jumping rope requires wrist rotation, so it’s not ideal for tight wraps. If you have to wrap your hands before warm-up due to class programming, be sure to secure them again if they loosened.

If you get wrist pain, you can place your entire hand in a bowl of ice water after training for ten to fifteen minutes, which can help reduce inflammation. 

You can usually go back to punching pretty soon with a good tape job if the pain is minor, striking lighter with the tweaked hand until it feels one hundred percent. Make sure to tell your pad holding partner so they don’t give you more resistance than necessary.

hand wrapping properly to avoid wrist pain


Rolling your ankles is super common in all sports. The major bummer is, once you injure your ankle, there’s a 75% of more change you’ll have a repeat sprain, as this article in the Journal of Sports Medicine discusses.

You need strong ankles to support all the barefoot, single-leg movements of various kicks and knees. Jumping rope helps to strengthen ankles, which is one reason it’s an excellent warm-up.

If you Google “Muay Thai ankle support,” you will get a thousand different takes on why fighters wear them and why you should or shouldn’t wear them in practice.


My Take On Muay Thai Ankle Supports:

  • Fighter’s ankles were wrapped in athletic tape for fights, which made their instep into a hard cast of sorts that could a) help them land harder kicks b) reduce some injuries from kicking in a fight.
  • Since taping ankles is illegal in fights today due to the killer kicks it can inflict, and taping your ankle for each training session is expensive and tedious, cloth ones offer a similar alternative.
  • Elastic cloth ankle supports stretch and wear over time and don’t offer the same benefits as a hard ankle brace or a professionally applied tape job.
  • Cloth ankles can become kind of a “crutch,” and you may feel vulnerable without them.
  • Cloth ankle supports can catch sweat from your legs and make gym mats less slippery, so if this helps you feel safer, that’s cool.
ankle wraps in muay thai a.k.a. "anklets"

Photo By Rizaldi

 is If you like the feel of ankle supports, go for it. I’m not a huge fan, but they can prevent cuts and remind you where the ball of your foot is, which is where you need to pivot for kicks.

I think the overuse of ankle support can hinder your training. The Muay Thai ankle wrap doesn’t allow the skin on the top of the foot to get conditioned and can give you a false sense of protection.

I used to wear ankle wraps every day, then forgot to put them back in my gym bag one day, and after a heavy bag workout with a lot of high kicks, I found I was missing skin off the top of my foot. Good times. After that, I just wore the cloth ankle supports for fights, not in training. I liked to tap the bottom on them in a bit of water before the match started to help the ring be less slippery.

The Best Ankle Injury Prevention:

  • Understand kick angles & footwork
  • Improve your balance & mobility!
  • Don’t prioritize speed over technique
  • Practice footwork in shadow boxing 

The number one strike I’ve seen someone injure themselves throwing is the left switch kick. 

If a student switches stances to throw a body kick and tries to switch faster than they can adjust their balance, the ankle rolls under them. I also saw someone pull their calf on a switch and another tear their Achilles heel. 

Foot placement matters too. To maintain good balance, you must step off the centerline of your partner or heavy bag when you kick, or you’ll put your foot in a vulnerable position.

There is nothing worse than injuring yourself in mid-air for no good reason. Go slow when you are learning new things. When your coach says the combo looks clean, that’s when you can pick up speed and power.

Practice your footwork in shadow boxing with keen focus every training session. Good footwork equals fewer injuries.

Lastly, the #1 action you can take to reduce the chance of a first or repeat ankle roll is to improve balance and mobility. I always include this type of work when I’m programming for clients.


pad holding techniques to prevent muay thai foot injuries


Bloody knuckles might sound like a hardcore punk band, but they are also a common minor injury in boxing or Muay Thai.

If you punch with power on hard mitts with a tough pad holder, even the most technically accurate punches can leave your knuckle sores or wear away the skin even through hand wraps.

Getting bloody knuckles on the index or middle finger means you punched correctly; if you got them on the smaller pinky or ring fingers, you should focus on turning over your punches.

Got bloody knuckles? No problem! I have a proven method for getting back to mitt work the very next day.


Post Bloody Knuckles Care:

  • Clean, disinfect, and put on antibacterial ointment
  • Cover any raw skin with a super sticky, flexible fabric bandage, ideally the one “made for knuckles.”
  • Loop 1-inch athletic tape over, so it’s double-sided sticky and covers your bandaged knuckles.
  • Stick a pad gauze bandage or boxing gauze wrap folded over accross the tape and press gently. (The gauze shouldn’t slip around on impact now.)
  • Proceed with your hand wraps, as usual, giving a little extra knuckle pad support.
  • Punch away to your heart’s desire!
  • Make sure you clean and re-bandage your knuckles after your pad session too!
muay thai fighter roxy vivien aka roxy balboa - punching mitts

You still might feel knuckle soreness a bit, but this will help you get through your next training session if you are training for a fight.

If you are not a fighter, use this method and punch a bit lighter until your hands heal, or practice kicks, knees, and elbows instead.


The first time you train clinch in Muay Thai, your neck will get very, very sore. To prevent extreme soreness, I highly recommend icing for twenty minutes before you sleep that night and maybe even taking a couple of ibuprofen. If you do not, you will be in for some significant discomfort the next day.

Most people don’t do neck strengthening exercises regularly. After one short clinch session, you will know how unconditioned your neck is.

As you improve at clinch techniques, your neck muscles get stronger. You can also do additional neck exercises, like the simple ones pictured here.


muay thai clinch work

Please don’t string a weight from a rope in your mouth and lightweight with your neck, your dentist will not approve, and it’s not necessary for your next strength.

I used head turns and nods while laying with my back on the boxing ring with my head hanging off the side of the ring. Bodyweight resistance and practicing clinch frequently are all you need to develop your Muay Thai neck strength.

Again, don’t be that YouTube idiot lifting rocks with his mouth. 


Pad Holding is a skill. You will suck at first, and if you work at it, you will get better. Learning to hold pads correctly will help your timing, tension and add to your overall understanding of the sport. It will also help you develop the strength to keep your hands up.

If your partner is striking too quickly for your pad holding skills, you can ask them nicely to slow down. If your partner is hitting harder than you can handle, you can ask them to go a tiny bit lighter.

If your pad holding partner has more experience than you and makes no adjustment in their speed or power to help you work together, they are a shitty partner.

Assuming your coach is not an asshole on the pads, too,  you can politely ask your coach to get paired with someone else next class. 

If you don’t give enough resistance to your partner, not only is it an unsatisfying pad session for them (too easy), but it’s dangerous for you, as you risk getting your shoulder tweaked when your hand flies back after punches. You also risk hitting yourself in the face with the Thai Pad when they kick if you don’t create enough tension.

muay thai pad work

Learning martial arts is learning how to use your body’s power, and full ability, part of that is learning to strike and defend strikes, but it’s also able to absorb blows when they land.

Holding Thai pads teaches you the timing of tension on impact. When you meet an opponent’s power with your force, their offense weakens. 

If you time your tension correctly, a striking landing cannot throw you off balance or knock the wind out of you.


Breath is essential to striking, pad holding, and defense. Just as you breathe out sharply from the abdomen when you strike, holding pads helps you remember to breathe when you get hit. 

Create a power breathe on impact when you hold pads to tense against your partner’s strike. My first instructor taught me to say “hush” when I strike, but any sound or grunt that makes your abs hard is acceptable.

pad holding techniques to prevent muay thai foot injuries


Do NOT expose your elbows when holding pads for kicks. Keep your elbows tucked behind the kick pad and close to your body when holding for body kicks.


If you reach for the kick and leave a gap between your arms and body, there is a chance your partner’s kick will slide under the pad or, worse, hit your elbows. 

The angle you hold the pads matters…

For punches, always keep the pas or mitts flat (v.s. angled down) with the center of the pad at your partner’s chin level – it helps prevent jamming your partner’s wrists!

For kicks, you need to angle the Thai pads slightly down. If you are looking at a clock and your partner is directly in front of you at the number twelve,  the angle of the pads would be between 10-11 on the clock for a right kick and between 1 and 2 o’clock for a left kick.

If you are holding pads for someone that can’t turn their hip over well, i.e., pivot on the kick, you may need to angle the pads down more or hold them lower.

Communicate with your partner as do a few light “test” kicks if you are working with someone new.

muay thai padwork angles


Like the ankle rolling, once you dislocate your shoulder,  it’s likely to happen again.

However, this is one you can prevent pretty easily, at least the first occurance…

Stop doing so many (shitty) push-ups and start pulling and rowing more.

If you train Muay Thai or boxing, you perform a ton of pushing motions already. Punching and pad holding are pushing movements.

Unbalanced training can lead to a rounded pack, tight chest muscles, and muscle imbalances, predisposing you to shoulder injuries. The most common injuries of the shoulder I see in Muay Thai are shoulder dislocations.

I highly recommend minimizing push-ups, bench press, and other pushing exercises if you train muay thai frequently. Use a 3:1 ratio of pull to push in all workouts outside of Muay Thai.

My favorite rowing (pulls) tool is the TRX Suspension Trainer, followed by chin-ups, 3-point rows, Pendallay rows, banded no-moneys, and pistons – just to name a few 😉 It’s impossible to say you’re bored of rows; there are so many!

If you insist on doing push-ups, be sure your form is on point. For optimal shoulder health, elbows should point behind you at a 45 (or less) degree angle, not flare out to the side. 

If you can’t do a push-up chest to ground with proper form, use an incline! There is no point in performing partial reps of an exercise because you are too proud to use the appropriate assistance.


Jane Fonda popularized the “no pain no gain” catchphrase in the ’80s with her workout videos. She was specifically talking about the “burn” from repetitive aerobics, but with bodybuilding popular in the 80’s meatheads worldwide made the phrase their own. It shaped the fitness culture into thinking that gains could not be made without some level of muscle discomfort.

The ’80s were rife with fitness and nutrition myths. The “burn” does not mean you are getting results any more than repeatedly waving your hand will get you ripped triceps, but there is some merit to the phrase.

What Jane probably meant by pain was discomfort.

While pain is not necessary to results, some discomfort is. I believe struggle, be it mental or physical, is crucial to progress and success. Ask me if someone has the potential to be a top fighter or athlete, and I’ll evaluate their ability to endure mental and physical struggles before I give you an answer.

If you have no desire to compete at Muay Thai, but you want to make significant improvements in your training, you will need to step out of your comfort zone at some point.

Experiencing some degree of physical or mental stress, i.e., “pain,” endure it and come through the other side tougher from accepting the challenge.

The challenge is what I love most about Muay Thai. I was never a successful athlete before I found the sport. Muay Thai can teach you how to love something even if it’s hard, embrace it, tackle it, win or lose, and still love the journey. Even if you never get into a fight in your life, the mental and physical toughness you gain from Muay Thai training will be priceless.

train smart to avoid muay thai injuries


A “push through it” mentality separates fighters from casual Muay Thai students. But there are times when mental toughness can hurt you.

I don’t recommend training injured, but the desire to train regardless of circumstances is commonplace in high-level athletes and other equally stubborn individuals like myself. 

I wrote this article because I know many people will train injured without any knowledge of recovery and care. Hopefully, my tips can help you decide when is the right time to push through or take a rest day.

Training with bumps, bruises, or soreness is entirely up to you.

There have been many days when my muscles ached, my shins felt battered, my toe looked blue, my wrist throbbed, and still, I dutifully slathered on my Thai oil, wrapped up, got warmed up, and in fifteen minutes felt no pain, only the adrenaline of competing in a sport I loved.

There is also something to be said about being in your twenties and playing a sport. You are quicker to heal and don’t require as many targeted recovery measures.

Of course, there are those injuries that require rest. Have the flu? Rest. Tore your knee? Rest and see a doctor. Have a concussion? Rest and see a doctor. Need stitches? Don’t superglue your face. Go to the ER, please.

When I tore my knee in 2009, I got medical attention and took time off, but as soon as I was able to walk and had the doctor’s go ahead, I was in the gym doing pull-ups, dips, rows, bench press, and shoulder presses, whatever I could think of that didn’t involve the use of my knee.

If your goal is to compete as an athlete or you have lofty fitness goals, minor injuries don’t have to mean a complete cessation of your routine. If you choose to train, you need smart, careful modification of your programming.

x Coach Roxy


Hubbard, T.J, & Wikstrom, E.A. (2010, July 16). Ankle sprain: Pathophysiology, predisposing factors, and management strategies. Open Access J Sports Med, 1, 115-112. https://doi: 10.2147/oajsm.s9060

Andrews, R. (n.d.). All about nutrient deficiencies. Retrieved from https://www.precisionnutrition.com/aa-nutrient-deficiencies

Dr. Payne, J., & Dr. Cox, J. (2018). Broken toe. https://patient.info/foot-care/broken-toe

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