High training volume in any sport will lead to overuse injuries and muscular imbalances, and Muay Thai is no exception. It’s true, you really can have too much of a good thing! Fighting posture is designed to defend vulnerable parts of your body against imminent attack, not promote long-term health. And Thai boxers spend a significant amount of time hunched forward in a fighting stance, throwing a disproportionate amount of horizontal extension movements while punching or even holding pads for training partners. However, intelligent supplemental training can counteract these muscular imbalances, avoiding injury, and keep you training hard — so don’t go jacking it all in just yet.
This poor posture is also common in a seated position while driving a car, watching TV or using a computer, and leads to a condition classified by Dr Vladimir Janda as upper crossed syndrome; in which muscular imbalances in the upper torso increase your risk of injury and make you less efficient during training and in the ring.
Upper crossed syndrome is characterised by over-active, tight pectoral chest muscles (rounding your shoulders forward) and Upper Trapezius / Levator Scapula muscles (shrugging), combined with weak deep neck flexors (poor head tipping and rotation control) and Rhomboids / Serratus Anterior muscles (which should pinch your shoulder blades back and down).
I know from personal experience that injury from this condition is a time bomb waiting to go off. I tore my Upper Trapezius muscle while clinch training 1-week before an English Title fight. At the time my strength and conditioning training failed to address the upper crossed syndrome I’d developed over years of Muay Thai training, combined with a habit of stooping to talk to shorter people!
Strength and conditioning sessions, along with warm up and cooldown routines should be structured to counteract this posture and resulting muscular imbalances by strengthening and activating deep neck flexors and lower scapular fixators, while relaxing the pectoral, upper trapezius and levator scapula musculature. Strength and conditioning should always provide benefits that can’t be obtained by simply practising or performing your sport — or you’re wasting time. In this case, Thai boxing creates an imbalance that we must counteract to minimise injury and maximise performance.
In my next post I’ll detail some exercises that will counter the muscular imbalances caused through high-volume Muay Thai training.. Please don’t forget to give me some comments below.
Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning
Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.
Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donheatrick/
Thank you Don,
An interesting post which brings to mind a few things. I personally think that counter balancing muscle weaknesses and exaggerated cyphosis due to stance mixed with appropriate stretching and massage treatment is a must do for any one practicing regularly. Looking forward to your next post on exercises.
I think it’s hard for anyone who can perform apparent “super-human” feats of athletic prowess to accept that our bodies may have developed ways of cheating movements to avoid weaknesses that we’ve developed by specialising. It isn’t until an injury highlights our shortcomings that we have to face the issue. Hopefully posts like these will help others prevent problems rather than just working re-hab afterwards.
[…] on from my last post, “Is Muay Thai Bad for Posture?”, this time I look at some exercises that can counter balance the overuse and posture compensation […]
[…] Muay Thai stance, although defensively strong, encourages bad posture and will result in poor postural compensations if not countered with deliberate correctional exercise. I’ve suffered from this myself and […]
WHO DONT WE ALL LEARN SOME GRECO ROMAN BASICS .
PUMMELING AND HAND FIGHTING FO R POSITION .
GRECO HAS MUCH TO OFFER muay thai clinch
Yes, very true. Muay Thai clinch work is vertical wrestling with limited ‘throws’ and of course striking allowed – which is an important distinction to remember, watch out for elbows!
[…] The bent-over row not only adds strength to the horizontal pulling pattern (balancing the amount of horizontal pressing Thai boxers perform with all that punching), but also significantly strengthens the postural muscles stabilising the back and the scapulae — helping counter act the effects of a Muay Thai stance on long-term posture. […]
[…] Pull ups develop the strength for Muay Thai clinch work. Correctly executing this movement also works the muscles stabilising the shoulder blades, which get long and weak when spending a lot of time in a Muay Thai stance. […]
let me ask does riding hourses make you bow legged?
heading a soccor ball often will make you stupid.
boxers getting them consusions to the head.
what about them usa foot ball players complaining about head trauma ??
gymnastics looks to beauitful till you land on your neck.
life is chocked full of risks ..
I agree Wilber, there’s risks associated with any activity – especially the fun ones. :)
I’m not scaremongering. The purpose of this article was to shed light on those sneaky overuse injuries and postural changes that emerge over time, and suggest some methods that counteract them. So you can continue to enjoy Muay Thai and perform to the best of your ability for the longest time possible.
[…] much sport-specific practice can easily lead to overuse injuries and strength/stability imbalances. Strength and conditioning sessions should always seek to address these imbalances and contribute […]
[…] physical qualities for their sport. To this end, the primary strength and conditioning objective is injury prevention, followed by performance enhancement. All manner of training tools are used to achieve this. I feel […]
[…] see a lot of poor upper body posture and shoulder injuries in fighters. We spend a great deal of time with our shoulders rounded […]
hello there fight lovers .
let me give a very brief statement about the holly holm vs ronda hussy mma fight.
everyone watch the video and make note of the snap down technique employed to great advantage setting up for the postion allowing the kick to the neck.
this youtube show a top view slow-motion of the set up ..
[…] couple of previous posts that you may be interested in… https://heatrick.com/2012/11/19/is-muay-thai-bad-for-posture/ […]