So it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a triathlon addict but something that not many people know is that I also love to practice Muay Thai.
It’s Thailand’s national sport, also known as the ‘art of eight limbs’ due to the use of punches, elbows, knees and kicks therefore using eight points of contact. It’s a challenge for me as I’m not the most naturally coordinated of people but I love it! As well as gaining muscle definition in places I didn’t even know I had muscles, it helps to develop my coordination and also strengthens my bones. This is awesome for us ladies seeing as osteoporosis is unfortunately a huge factor in our ageing process, like we don’t already have enough to deal with!? Now, I’m no doctor but after some research, here is my understanding of what happens when I say Muay Thai strengthens bones… Each time you kick the bag or some pads, you force your shins to adapt. Firstly by deadening the nerve sensations, so it becomes less painful when you impact. The second thing that happens is you pick up teeny tiny micro fractures, as these heal they build up the inside of your hollow shin bones gradually becoming thicker and stronger. The final change is a hard calcium deposit on top of the bone. All of these factors make for crazy tough bones!
Now this doesn’t mean you should go around kicking walls to strengthen your bones. This is the quickest and easiest way to break your leg! Real fractures are very different to tiny micro fractures, they do not strengthen your bones in any way! Any conditioning you want to do should be done gradually under the guidance of a qualified teacher! It’s crazy but I have actually seen people recommending that you kick walls and trees etc. In old school Muay Thai, devotees used to (and sometimes still do) train by kicking banana trees. However banana trees are about as hard as the bags that are used in gyms today, way softer than your average oak! (Fact, banana trees aren’t even trees, they’re actually classed as a herbaceous plant!)
Anyway on a less physical, but just as important note, it really is a great way to build self confidence. For all women (and men) I think this is vital, it’s not like we’re thrust into a scary gym, shoved into the ring and told to beat each other up. In Muay Thai we are taught to respect ourselves and the others that we train and fight with. We get to experience healthy competition, thats both winning AND losing, equally important in life. For me Muay Thai is about being honourable, humble, respectful, and confident in my own abilities, in and out of the ring. There are so many great facilities in and around London and you will probably find that there’s more women there than you expect, most places even offer women only sessions, perfect for first timers! I personally love MMA Den in Battersea, it’s a small friendly gym with great coaches and a great atmosphere!
See you there?