2015, Volume 11, Issue 1

Injuries and overloads in Thai boxing (Muay Thai)

Bartosz Bolach1, Kazimierz Witkowski1, Eugeniusz Bolach1, Maciej Zerzut2

1University School of Physical Education, Faculty of Sport Science, Wrocław, Poland
2Academy of Physiotherapy, Wrocław, Poland

Author for correspondence: Bartosz Bolach; University School of Physical Education, Faculty of Sport Science, Wrocław, Poland; email: katedra.ds@[at]awf.wroc.pl

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Background and Study Aim: Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, originates from southern Asia (not only from Thailand, but also from Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia). It was inspired by fighting skills used on battle fields during wars conducted by the Thais in the twelfth and thirteenth century AD. Apart from a fight with use of various weapons, during hand-to-hand fighting warriors used Kaad Chuek [wrappings around hand and forearm] which were hardened and studded with gravel to cause the greatest damage possible. The overall objective of the research is to obtain knowledge about injuries and overloads typical for sportsmen who train Thai boxing as well as about treatment methods and effects.
Material and Methods: The study included 50 athletes training Thai boxing aged 16 to 26 years (average age 21.9, ±3.1). Training experience amounted to 4.4 ±2.8 years in the case of more experienced athletes; 1.3 years ±0.4 in the case of less experienced ones. They trained on average 4 times a week. The largest group consisted of athletes with secondary education (40%), whereas competitors with higher education constituted 30%. Injuries and overloads in Thai boxing were evaluated with the use of anonymous questionnaire developed by Bolach et al. (2008). Each examined person could give any number of answers to individual questions (criteria: number and location of injuries on the body, the type of treatment, biological regeneration, etc.).
Results: The injuries most often affected lower extremities (knee joints, ankles, tights, shins), head and shoulders. In contrast, overloads affected knee joints and spine. Injuries and overloads more frequently occurred during trainings than during competitions. They occurred in more experienced athletes more often. Treatment of injuries was more effective (83%) than the one of overloads (74%). Injuries were most often treated pharmacologically and conservatively. The majority of competitors used biological regeneration. The most common was sports massage, sauna and cryotherapy.
Conclusions: Many athletes continued to train or even participated in competitions without uncured sports injury (injury or overload). Coaches should educate players that the overarching mission of sport is to enhance health. Unfortunately, the media pressure for success in all human activities possible distorts the mission of sport. Thus, there is a growing interest in neo-gladiator fights.

Key words: biological regeneration, conservative treatment, pharmacological treatment, hand-to-hand fights