If you do not take proper precautions to protect and strengthen your knees, then Muay Thai can do some serious damage to the joint. Over time, an improper technique especially when kicking can cause your knees to weaken and become susceptible to injury.
However, if you have proper alignment in your stances for both your front and back knees, there is no reason to believe that you should suffer from knee injuries. The knees are fairly tough and often used defensively to absorb blows from shin kicks. Most times in a knee to shin face off, the shin is the one that comes out the worse for wear.
In this article, we will review whether knee injuries are common in Muay Thai, how to protect to your knees from injury when practicing Muay Thai, and how to avoid knee injuries due to Muay Thai practices.
Are Knee Injuries Common in Muay Thai?
Knee injuries are not as common as other injuries such as head injuries or fractured fingers and toes. Knees are not usually the target of strikes, which makes them lower on the list for direct injury. However, they can be used to effectively block kicks and deliver striking blows. Therefore, they can accrue a fair amount of bruising or lacerations in such defensive maneuvers.
Most often though, the common knee injury sustained in Muay Thai is knee strain. The ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, making up the knee joint can undergo strain and even overextension after constant use of improper stance and kicking techniques.
An easy way to correct and prevent knee strain is by practicing good Muay Thai techniques that will not only save your knees from injury but improve the power and efficacy of your blows.
How Do I Protect My Knees in Muay Thai?
If your knees have already suffered injury or you lack structural support in your knees due to a previous ACL injury, using a knee brace may help avoid further damage to your knees. A prophylactic knee brace is your best bet because these are specifically designed to help protect your knees from injury due to high contact sports that may put undue stress on the knee joint.
However, knee braces can be bulky and a hindrance in a sport that requires agility and constant body contact. An additional way to protect your knees and improve your Muay Thai training altogether is by condition training.
Strengthening your knees by employing conditioning practices such as sprinting, stretching, stair or hill runs, and long distance running can help protect your knees from the common injury of knee strain. Trying to avoid blocking blows with your knees will also help protect them, but a lot of times that’s not a feasible option especially in the midst of a fight.
Weight training can also be a helpful tool to strengthen and ultimately protect your knees from injury. By weight lifting with your legs and ankles, you can build up the muscle in your knee joint to prevent it from undergoing excess strain while fighting.
How Do You Avoid Knee Injuries in Muay Thai?
One of the most common knee injuries incurred by practicing Muay Thai is knee strain. Knee strain is common among fighters that are not employing proper kicking and stance techniques. To avoid this knee injury, you must always work on proper technique when defending and attacking.
When standing in a fighting stance, your front knee should be aligned with your toes, pointing forward, and slightly bent. There are two common mistakes that fighters make when aligning their front knees that can lead to knee strain. The first is rotating the knee inwards towards your body and the second is bending the knee too much so that you can’t see your toes.
Your back knee should also be properly aligned in your stance by pointing in the same direction as your back toes. A common mistake that can lead to knee strain is over rotating the knee so that it’s pointing outwards.
Another crucial way to avoid knee injuries is knowing the proper striking distance for kicks. Overextending your knees by trying to kick an opponent who is too far away can cause damage. Close your distance before striking and ensure proper full hip rotation that follows through.
If the full power of your kick does not come from the hip, it can place undue stress on the knee causing it to weaken.
Muay Thai Martial Arts involves rigorous training that is tough on the body, including knees. The impact of Muay Thai may be too much for some people with knee issues to handle.
However, if you follow the guidance of an expert instructor and take precautions you will minimize any risk of injury.