No matter how hard you work on your striking technique, you aren't going to pack real power until you put it to the test against the heavy bag. While heavy bags are padded to absorb impacts, they're often packed densely and shouldn't be taken lightly. Kicking a heavy bag too hard or too often can be dangerous to the shins, leading to acute or long-term stress injuries that will hamper your training.
Although heavy bags can do damage to your shins, there's a reason so many kickboxers rattle the chains with punishing kicks. Repeated impacts to the shins cause microscopic fractures in the bones. As long as they heal correctly, your shins will become denser and more resistance to impact, allowing you to kick harder and reducing your risk of injury.
Putting force into your kicks can translate to tougher bones and harder strikes, but there is a trade-off to excessive conditioning. Injuries from heavy bag training can range from minor soft tissue damage, such as bruising, to more serious problems, including fractures, lesions and ligament damage. Just because you can handle the pain doesn't mean your body can withstand the stress.
Approach to Training
How much of an impact heavy bags will have on your shins depends completely on your level of conditioning and how hard you hit the bag, but you can reduce your chances of developing acute or chronic injuries by avoiding some common errors. You should always warm up properly before going hard on a bag. This will encourage blood flow to your legs and will allow them to process waste products more effectively. Giving your shins time to adjust to the impact by starting light and steadily ramping up the force of your kicks will allow you to gauge the risk of injury. Bags differ in terms of density, so you should only strike bags you feel comfortable striking. The denser they are, the higher your risk of injury.
It may seem obvious, but the first sign that you've struck the bag too hard is pain. Although you have to experience some level of discomfort to reap the benefits of shin conditioning, your shins shouldn't be throbbing after a round on the bag. Any time you cut your shin on a bag, you should stop training immediately and disinfect the wound to avoid infection. The condition of your shins after a training session will tell you whether or not you need to pump the brakes the next time you step into the gym. Swollen, bruised shins need time to heal. If you don't give your body time to recover, you run the risk of enduring chronic overuse injuries.
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