George has done martial arts and muay thai boxing for over 12 years. He has expertise in exercise science, fitness, and nutrition.
In muay thai and MMA, we kick and block with our shins, so they tend to take a beating. Bruises, swelling, and hematomas, are common for practitioners. Knowing how to prevent and treat shin injuries is important to staying healthy and being able to regularly train hard.
Preventing Shin Injuries
An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. To start, always warm up before you start kicking things. Once you're adequately warmed up, take the first round at an easy pace . . . don't start blasting immediately. You want to give your shins time to adjust.
Know your limits. If you've only been training a couple months, don't kick the heavy bag as hard as you can. Your shin is not properly conditioned or ready for this. Avoid bare shin-on-shin contact and do not buy into shin conditioning gimmicks. Beating your shins with hard objects will only hurt them. Real shin conditioning is a gradual process.
Elevating your legs for 5 to 10 minutes after training can be very helpful for preventing muscle soreness and minimizing bruising. During training, large volumes of blood are pumped to your legs. Elevating them allows the blood and waste products to drain out.
Treating Shin Bruises
Bruises occur when you break small blood vessels underneath your skin. The dark marking of a bruise is actually blood. Small bruises that are not painful require no real attention, and you can continue training normally. Small bruises usually take 3 to 5 days to clear.
For bruises that are larger and painful, you will want to take it easy and avoid contact to the area. Icing your shin immediately after you sustain the injury will help to prevent bruising. The faster you can get ice on your shin injury, the more it will help. When you ice your shin, put a paper towel down first, do not put ice directly on your skin. Ice for 20 minutes, then remove and let sit for 1 hour. Repeat as necessary. This will be helpful for the first couple days after sustaining the injury.
For severe shin bruising, allow no contact to the area. Let the bruising fully heal before you begin kicking again. Use ice as described above for the first couple days. After this, warm baths with Epsom salt will be helpful. 2 cups of Epsom salt in a hot bath alleviates bruising, as well as general muscle soreness and inflammation.
If the bruising does not get better or is extremely painful, see a doctor. You may have a more serious injury.
Shin Swelling and Hematomas
Sometimes your shins will not only bruise, they will also swell or develop lumps known as hematomas. When you have swelling or hematomas, do not allow contact on your shins. Ice the area as described above until the swelling or hematoma subsides. Large hematomas can take as long as a month or two before they go down fully. Compresses with Epsom salt will also help swelling and hematomas.
If the swelling or hematoma does not begin to go down or is extremely painful, see a doctor. This could mean you have a more serious underlying injury to your shin.
Dit Da Jow
Dit da jow is an ancient Chinese herbal rub. It prevents and alleviates bruises as well as swelling and hematomas. It can also help treat sore muscles or tendon/ligament injuries. Think of dit da jow as healing in a bottle. Chinese iron body practitioners used it to help with body conditioning.
Dit da jow is fantastic for helping with shin conditioning. It is also an amazing treatment for shin bruises and all other impact injuries. Applying it before you train and immediately after will prevent almost all impact injuries and bruising. It will also rapidly accelerate healing of existing injuries.
If you seriously train muay thai or MMA, you should use dit da jow. I recommend Plumdragon herbs. Their jows are extremely effective and very reasonably priced. The customer service is also excellent.
To limit shin bruising, swelling, and hematomas, ice your shins as quickly after an injury as you can. Elevating your legs after training will help with general soreness and mild bruising. Epsom salt compresses and baths will help alleviate bruising as well as swelling. Dit da jow is like magic.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
tyson on August 05, 2012:
hey i get this clicking noice in my hip when i lift my leg up to cheak kicks and when i do a push kick my hip feels like it is out of place an it goes weak then when i put my foot back on the ground it fees alright. do you know what this could be? it only happens on my left hip
amanda on July 02, 2012:
How did your hematoma continued? I'm interested in what was the results of your MRI. Did they also crates your ankle? I have the same exact injury on my shin along with swelling and bruising on my ankle two months ago and the hematoma continous to be the same size with numbness and itching.
George Hariri (author) from Washington, DC on March 02, 2012:
I'd need to know more about the injury to comment on it. How did it happen and what are your symptoms? In general, rest the muscle and time will take care of it. After it is healed, stretching and strengthening are important.
George Hariri (author) from Washington, DC on March 02, 2012:
I'm sorry to hear it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of meat heads out there who think they know what they're doing because they took a few lessons and watch UFC. Don't let it disuade you. It's a great sport, just find a good gym and you'll be very happy.
Aakif on February 28, 2012:
how to improve my thigh groing muscle injury
Jessica on February 17, 2012:
Thanks for the advice. I went and had an x-ray, and it didn't show any fracturing. However, it's been about a week and a half more with no improvements, so I'm probably going to need to get an MRI...I talked to the owner at that gym, and he basically made fun of me for talking tough and then staying out with an injury. I definitely won't be training with them any more. I should have done my research.
George Hariri (author) from Washington, DC on February 06, 2012:
First, I would advise never training with those people again. Using any object to hit your shins, especially a metal one, is inappropriate and will only injure you and make your shin weaker. This instructor has no idea what he/she is doing and acted very irresponsibly. Please see my article on shin conditioning for more info.
If there has been no contact to your foot, the bruising may be loose blood and fluid that gravity has pulled down from the original injury. I'm not a doctor, so I can't say for sure. I would STRONGLY advise you to see an orthopedist, especially if the lump feels hard. You may have cracked the bone.
Jessica on February 06, 2012:
I did an MMA body conditioning class about three weeks ago, where they decided it would be fun to bash a metal bar against my shin for two minutes for "conditioning." Immediately afterwards, it looked like a softball was growing out of my shin. Now, three weeks later, I still have a hard painful lump and my foot is bruised as if I sprained my ankle. Could it be fractured?