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When I spar, I often jam my toes from throwing push-kicks (teeps). This kick is no problem for me in training, but I think the jamming happens when my partner parries or otherwise blocks my teep, and then my toes get jammed or forcefully bent backward. I've heard that toe fractures are common from this type of incident, so I'm looking for tips to avoid such injury.

I'm sure that improving my technique will help, but I'm also especially interested in gear recommendations. I'm already wearing shin guards with an instep piece, but they obviously don't protect my toes. Would something like a treadless MMA sparring shoe give good protection and not interfere with Muay Thai sparring?

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Honestly, when you get injured it is usually an oversight of timing and practice. I do not have any gear that I would recommend, but I would rather state this instead.

Take the time to to land the kick.

This just means slow down what you can with your mind and envision the kick before actually committing to it. If you do not see it land it very likely will not land. Your partner will always give signs of their movements and the best time to do a "Push Kick", or what I was trained to be called a Front Kick, is the second that they land on their back foot and are moving to the furthest side of your kick.

In my experience that is going to be your best timing to do such a move. Gear could help you in the future, but you must be in control of your own movements to avoid true injury.

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I don't have any gear recommendations, but FWIW suggest:

  • spending more time setting up the opponent before kicking

  • ensuring you're far enough from the opponent to lift the shin towards horizontal - clear of elbows - before extending your foot at the opponent

  • leading the extension with the heal, with the ball of the foot pulled back towards you (and the toes even more so) until shortly before impact when you can push the ball forwards if you see it's safe/useful to do so

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