GEAR Q&A: HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR EQUIPMENT
In order to train Muay Thai, you will need to have gear, the quality of which will have a huge impact on your training.
Whether you have difficulty deciding which is best, or need advice on how to maintain your gear, these five commonly-asked questions about Muay Thai equipment.
Q: “WHAT SIZE GLOVES SHOULD I GET?”
It’s best to get two different glove sizes: one for sparring and one for bag/pad work.
The ones for sparring will be heavier, since it’s not nice to punch your training partners with little 8-10 oz gloves. There’s just no reason for it, as they will get hurt. Depending on how big you are, opt for sparring gloves that are 14-16 oz. Unlike people, bags and pads can afford to get hit with 100% power.
Using smaller gloves, on the other hand, will also help with knuckle conditioning. Eight to twelve ounce gloves are great (again, if you weigh more, go with gloves in the heavier range). Anything smaller than 8’s are a bit silly, as Muay Thai competition gloves are 8-10 oz. Using extremely light gloves during training will give you an unpleasant surprise during a fight when your shoulders become tired from the weight difference! However, if you’re not training to fight, feel free to get small bag gloves.
But if you’re absolutely set on only getting one pair of gloves, go for 12-16 oz. These are good for both hitting pads and for sparring, although having two separate gloves is a bit more ideal.
Q: “HOW DO I CHOOSE PROPER FITTING SHIN GUARDS?”
Proper sparring shin guards should:
A) …not be a complete hassle to take on and off. There should be velcro straps. Try different brands and models before you buy them. Take them on and off a few times.
B) …cover your entire shin and foot. You don’t want to catch your toes on someone’s elbow. Read #3 to see why the shinguards should cover your shin
C) …not be the thin cloth competition kind! Those are too thin! While you may be okay with it, most other people are not going to be happy that you are kicking them with those on. They offer minimal padding and protection, and it’s going to cause some pain on both sides of the kick.
Q: “WHAT ARE SOME TYPES OF MOUTH GUARDS?”
There are two main types of mouth guards: A double mouth guard shields both the top and bottom rows of your teeth. A single mouth guard shields just the top row of your teeth. Each of these can come strapped or unstrapped, for those who want to anchor their mouthpiece to headgear. Options range from the cheap “boil-and-bite” form to a professional version made by a dentist.
Most people opt for a single mouth guard as it’s much easier to breathe with. A big chunk sitting in your mouth while you’re already tired is probably not ideal for air to pass by. Boil-and-bite mouth guards can be purchased at any sports store, but tend to form terribly to one’s mouth and can become loose rather quickly. Professional mouth guards are pricier, but well worth the investment. They form perfectly to your teeth because the dentist will take a mold, and are usually not as thick as boil and bites (but do the job just as well).
Q: “HOW DO I STOP MY GLOVES FROM SMELLING BAD?”
Gloves, like wet clothes or dirty socks, usually smell because of moisture from your sweat + bacteria. If you eliminate the moisture, bacteria can’t breed. If bacteria can’t breed, there will be no smell!
Although some people use deodorizing sprays, the best thing to do is air out your gloves on a glove rack or outside. DO NOT leave them sitting in your gym bag until your next session. Take care of the smelly problem, and your training partners will be thankful. Your gloves will last longer, too.
If airing them outside is not an option for you, put dry wood chips in a sock (stocking material) and leave them inside your gloves. They will suck up most of the moisture.
Q: “WHEN SHOULD I GET NEW RUNNING SHOES?”
While not directly related to Muay Thai, a Muay Thai fighter will have to put in a ton of roadwork as part of their conditioning. If you’ve had your running shoes for years and they have holes in them, it’s time to purchase a new pair.
Knowing when to replace your running shoes isn’t always so obvious. Having proper running shoes that are still functional is extremely important in order to avoid injury. Depending on the quality of your shoes, the rule of thumb avid runners use is to replace them 300-450 miles after your first use. You can also inspect your shoes and see where it’s been worn. If the part that supports your sole has become soft and collapses easily, or if the bottoms of your shoes have become asymmetrical, these are some signs it’s time for a new pair.
With a tiny bit of patience and some smart preparation, you can make training more enjoyable for yourself (and everyone around you!)
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.