How to Treat Shins – Healing Longer Lasting Shin Swelling In Muay Thai
This is my video demonstration of additional methods to treat and help heal shins that are bumped, swollen, or damaged from Muay Thai. For the primary care methods please see my videos at the bottom of this page.
I wrote a blog post last year on Treating Shins for Recovery and it’s been widely viewed and happily received by folks out there who don’t (yet) know what to do with the knots, bumps, and bruises on your shins. This is an update of additional information and techniques I’ve discovered since that post.
These shin bruises are quite common when you first start training and are pretty standard after fights from checking kicks. They become less frequent and less severe the more you fight, but knowing how to treat them makes getting back to training and back in the ring (or just not being uncomfortable with a big “mouse” on your shin) much quicker. You can also get these bumps on arms if you get kicked, as well as on your face if you get elbowed and it doesn’t cut. All the treatment is the same.
When I was fighting in Chiang Mai for two years I had a steady routine of an ice-bath upon returning home from fights, [ice on my shins and bumps or face bruises for about 24 hours after the fight – Jan – 2016 update: I’ve revised this, from personal experience. Start heat massage right away, skip the ice.] Then the hot water treatment and getting the bumps pressed out by Nook – it’s very painful but extremely helpful. There’s video and a short blog post on How Nook Removes Knots here.
I moved down to Pattaya this past month (June, 2014) and had my first fight a week after arrival. I got a knot on my left shin from a block and it didn’t really swell up too much, but perhaps because of the location (when it’s right on the side of the bone it can take longer to heal) or maybe because of something else, this one has taken much longer to heal. I did the ice-bath, took my after fight medicine a couple days after my fight, and did hot water massage on the shin and I was kicking on it within a few days. No problem, but it was still a little tender. Then I blocked a kick in padwork that happened to be right on the button of this bruise and the damn thing swelled back up and hurt like hell. I wore ankle compression “anklets” that you see on Muay Thai fighters all the time, pulled up over my shin to keep the swelling down while I was training (this is an awesome trick. You can slip one on right after a fight if you have a knot also the press it out if you don’t have someone to do that for you) but it was back to square one, really.
Since I don’t have Nook here in Pattaya to press out the bump, I’m resigned to using a broom handle that I sawed off and it’s basically just a solid stick. After I’ve heated the area with hot water I rub the stick up and down over the bump to flatten it and go down way below the bump and up on my thigh in order to open up the channels in both directions, imitating what Nook would do with his elbow. It works. And it hurts. Kru Nu was pretty surprised when I hurt myself again with that checked kick and asked me what I’d been putting on the bruise. I told him hot water and Namman Muay (the oil used for pre-fight massage), to which he kind of gave me a “what?” look and said Namman Muay is for muscles and I should be using this other stuff that I couldn’t remember the name of at all. Kru Nu has recommended good medicine to me before. Last time we were in Pattaya I had a bad cough before a fight and couldn’t take antibiotics because I had a fight in a few days, so I took an herbal medicine that really helped, based on his recommendation. When we finished on pads he took me into the house to look at the tube of cream he wanted me to be using on my shin. I took a photograph of it to show the pharmacist and stopped by to purchase a tube on the way home.
This stuff is awesome. It’s apparently for arthritis and post-operation swelling (Kru Nu said he’d discovered it after knee surgery but that their top Lumpinee fighter, PTT, uses this stuff on his shins after fights all the time). He also told me to take an oral anti-inflammatory called Capirox, of which I only took two tablets because I tend to under-medicate when I can. I got in a hot bath, pressed out the lump with my broomstick, and then put this cream on when I got out. I was massaging it on the shin in the morning, after each training session and before bed – so four times a day – and using a compression anklet on the shin for when I was sparring or kicking pads. The lump went down immediately and the tenderness – much to my surprise – has completely disappeared in the past three days. I don’t know that I’ll use this stuff as the primary treatment – I’ll stick with the ice-bath and hot water massage as my standard – but for when the bump is resilient like this last one was I think this is a great addition to the treatment regime. Maybe I’ll experiment with using it right after a fight to know for sure, but the hot water is so easy and generally reliable that I’d rather use that than any kind of medicine.
I posted a picture of the tube of Voltaren on my Facebook Page and got a number of responses from people who know the product (you can see those comments by clicking the link here).
It seems to be over the counter in most countries other than the US (go figure), but it goes by various names and also has generic options. The active ingredient is Diclofenac diethylammonium salt, so if you’re looking for alternatives or have allergies, that’s an important thing to know. There is also apparently an oral tablet option anti-inflammatory, but for me the cream works really well.
Primary Methods – Additional Media
Primary Method: heat treatment via hot water massage. Do this following injury. [During the first day you should use ice – Jan – 2016 update: previously I had done this, I now have stopped using ice.]
Primary Method #2: Pressing out the bumps. It’s difficult to do this yourself unless you’ve already become very accustomed to the pain and know the procedure. This can be done immediately following the injury, as well as after you’ve already begun the hot water treatments.
How I have experienced the hardening of my shins though two years of fighting.