By Pari “Cherry” Aryafar
Photos by Bin You
Muay Thai is a lot of fun! There are a few annoying parts that can get in the way of your enjoyment, (specifically the part where you get hit), which can make things difficult for you. Along with the risk of injury and the importance of resting and taking care of yourself in between sessions, I've outlined a few ways you can stay safe at training while still having a great time.
Stretch Well Before And After Training
You don’t have to be a ballerina to get a proper stretch in for your sessions. Stretching well before and after training is one of the most important ways to stay safe and avoid injuries in Muay Thai. Stretching improves flexibility, increases blood flow to the muscles, and lowers the risk of muscle strains and tears.
While you may be unsure of the best stretches for your body, there are tons of tips online that have simple exercises you can do before you step on or off the mats. You can effectively warm up your body and avoid unnecessary injuries during intense training sessions by taking a few extra minutes to stretch!
Be Aware Of Any Injuries
Before beginning Muay Thai training, it is critical to be aware of any pre-existing injuries. Maybe you hurt yourself when you were younger and that issue never went away, or you have a nagging pain in your lower back that always keeps you company.
It is critical to communicate your condition to your coach and training partners, whether it is a lingering joint issue or a muscle strain. This enables them to recommend changes and exercises to avoid aggravating your injury. Ignoring or concealing injuries can cause further harm and lengthen your recovery time, and it's not fair to put that on your training partners if they inadvertently worsen your injury.
Communicate With Your Training Partners
A safe Muay Thai experience requires effective and honest communication with your training partners. Make sure to let them know if you have any specific worries, such as a previous injury or preferred intensity level. Not everyone likes to spar at 100% or is able to move in the same way, and it’s important to be able to talk about it openly so both parties feel comfortable.
Establish trust and open dialogue with your training partners to create a supportive and inclusive training environment. You can make each other feel safe and comfortable by making each other aware of your limitations, what you're working on, and any concerns you have. You can then collaborate on training your best!
Push Yourself But Take A Break When Needed
While it is critical to push yourself and strive for improvement in Muay Thai, it is also important to know when to take a break. Pushing yourself past your limits, especially when tired, can increase your risk of injury. Even if you’re training for a competition, it’s good to be aware of when your body is worn out and needs to stop.
Pay attention to your body and recognize signs of exhaustion or pain. Take advantage of the water breaks you get during training and make sure to step back if you’re feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous. Resting and allowing your body to recover will not impede your progress but will, in the long run, benefit your performance.
Listen Well To Instructions
Listening intently to your coach's instructions is vital for training safety, and will make sure that everyone leaves the mats to go home without harm at the end of the session. Coaches instruct students on everything from proper technique, footwork, to defensive strategies, which are critical for injury prevention. Additionally, they will maintain the tempo and pressure of the class, meaning that you will work hard without pushing the pace too far.
By actively listening to your coach's instructions, you can ensure that you are performing the movements correctly and minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries. Furthermore, if you do as they ask, you will be less likely to injure yourself or your training partners.
Muay Thai can be a very rewarding and enjoyable sport, but it's no fun if you're not training safely – because then you're afraid of getting hurt, hurting others, or having a bad experience.
You can have a good time while minimizing the risk of injury by stretching properly, being aware of any pre-existing injuries, communicating with training partners, knowing your limits, and listening to instructions. Remember that safety should always come first, allowing you (and your teammates) to continue training and progressing in Muay Thai for years to come!