MMA fighters put their shins through a great deal of abuse. This is why many such athletes embark on a program of shin conditioning. Seen as a way of making shins stronger and more resilient during a fight, many wonder if it actually does more harm than good by causing arthritis.

Shin conditioning in itself does not cause arthritis. In fact, without proper conditioning, MMA fighters may find that they develop arthritis because of the constant pounding that results in bone spurs and corresponding calcium deposits. As such, shin conditioning is seen as a way of possibly avoiding arthritis.

Since constant pounding on the shin can indeed lead to arthritis under certain circumstances, it is crucial to know how to do it correctly. Like anything, shin conditioning can be beneficial when properly managed. Continue reading to learn more about how shin conditioning can benefit you as a fighter and protect your legs simultaneously.

Why Do Many Fighters View Shin Conditioning as Necessary?

Arthritis is a concern for any fighter due to the number of calcium deposits that build up in the bones as a result of so much pounding. Shin conditioning is seen as a way of potentially reducing this impact and providing shins with the workout necessary to fend off serious and potentially long-term injuries.

When your shins continually land on a hard surface, the bones therein will inevitably suffer from the formation of microfractures. This can occur during practice with the continual kicking of a heavy bag or in the cage with the striking of an opponent. Both are equally likely to cause the kind of damage that leads to eventual arthritis.

The microfractures that result are very small breaks of the surface of the bone. Because the human body is so resilient, it will immediately set out to repair these fractures. In so doing, calcium deposits tend to be lodged on top of the tissue that has been damaged. This is what can lead to arthritis. It is also why the case is made for shin conditioning.

What Are the Benefits of Shin Conditioning?

Shin conditioning can bring quite a few benefits to the MMA fighter. First, it provides fighters with a stronger attack as their shins can withstand the type of abuse that comes during a typical bout. This also leads to a stronger defense, as kicks delivered by the opponent will not have the intended impact.

Beyond the benefits just mentioned, shin conditioning can bring other benefits to an MMA fighter, both in increasing fighting ability and decreasing the likelihood of arthritis. These include the following:

  • Nerves will not be as sensitive – The first time you start fighting, the pain will be the result just about every time that your shin is hit. This is the way the brain works. However, those nerve endings will become desensitized over time through the process of shin conditioning. You will get used to it, meaning you will feel much less pain.
  • Tibias and fibulas become super dense – This is a case of the continual pounding on your bones, serving to make them even stronger. This is because of the ossification that occurs because of the microfractures in your shins.
  • Muscles become much stronger – Muscles also become stronger during shin conditioning because of those very same calcium deposits. Repetitive training leads to microtears in the muscles, but the body naturally repairs these.
  • The fighting form is improved – This is a perfect case of practice makes perfect. Form improves thanks to repetitive motion. Using your shins will become second nature and automatic.
  • There will not be as much hesitation in the ring – Pain causes hesitation. As soon as your shins are conditioned to the point that they no longer cause you immediate pain, you will be less likely to hesitate as you are fighting.

These five benefits alone highlight why so many MMA fighters engage in the technique of shin conditioning. It is inevitable that shins are going to take on a lot of abuse with this style of fighting.

As such, it is important to strengthen shins to the point that the potential for long-lasting damage can be minimized.


It is always important to take care of your body as a fighter. The repeated abuse that your shins can take can certainly be a cause for concern.

However, proper care and utilizing the right fighting techniques can minimize the potential onset of arthritis, leaving you healthier and more pain-free as a result.