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Soreness When Beginning Boxing

Soreness during beginning boxing training is commonplace.

Boxing training isn’t easy. New boxers have to deal with soreness, and a lot of it.

Here is a list of the aches and pains experienced by all boxing beginners, and some tips to help you deal with the soreness.

Shoulder soreness

When you practice new punches, the number one problem is shoulder soreness. The front of your shoulders — called the anterior deltoid muscle — is a small, relatively weak muscle that doesn’t typically get very much training during normal workout routines.

In boxing workout routines however, this muscle is heavily stressed.

The only way to deal with shoulder soreness is to work your shoulders over and over until you build up your muscular endurance. While you can try to punch your way into shape by relying on shadow boxing and other punching drills to improve your shoulder fitness, many boxers also use light dumbbells (2 to 5 pounds maximum) and very high reps during a shoulder workout. Either way, until you build up the endurance in your shoulders, this will be the weak link that holds back the rest of your training.

It’s virtually impossible to overwork a muscle if you are training it exclusively for muscular endurance, so while it’s OK to rest the muscle, make sure you get at least 3 days per week of good, hard shoulder training. This should get your shoulders in shape so you can participate fully in a proper boxing training session.

Elbow soreness from boxing training

Sore elbows caused by boxing training is serious. Soreness in this area can represent two serious problems:

  • Ligament damage in the elbow joint
  • Tendon damage near the elbow

In either case, you must rest until the soreness goes away. Then, when you feel OK to train again, you have to make sure not to reinjure yourself.

To avoid this sort of injury, never fully extend (or hyperextend) your elbow joints during shadow boxing (especially if you are punching hard and fast). Your jab gets its speed and power from the rotation of your shoulder joint, not from the (hyper)extension of your elbow — always remember that.

Sore wrists

Lots of people experience sore wrists when they start using the heavy bag.

To avoid it:

  • Learn proper technique.
  • Start with the straight punches like the jab and straight right.
  • Don’t practice the hooks and uppercuts (at full power) until later, when your wrists get stronger.
  • Always wrap your wrists with handwraps.
  • Wear padded gloves so you can punch with proper technique.

Sore knuckles

Sore knuckles from hitting the heavybag can be common if you don’t use proper padded gloves when you work out.

Get a cheap pair of boxing gloves and use them as bag gloves. The thin, leather gloves that came with your punching bag are not padded and don’t protect your knuckles.

Sore calves from boxing training

Skipping rope puts a lot of stress right on your calves. Get yourself in condition because there is no trick to preventing calf soreness from boxing training.

Knee or ankle pain

If your knee joints (or ankles) are sore, you should evaluate your footwear. Proper boxing shoes let you pivot effortlessly. Improper footwear grips the ground too well. This can tear up your knees and ankles when you pivot over and over again during long-term boxing training. Avoid these repetitive-stress injuries or you’ll regret it later in life.

Lower back soreness caused by boxing

Pivoting during punches puts a lot of stress on the lower back and the spinal stabilization muscles.

The key to avoiding this is to work up to things slowly. Don’t try to do it all at once.

You want to get your core muscles — abdominals, lower back, and others — strong and conditioned. This takes time and lots of effort, so don’t neglect your boxing floorwork.

Avoid excessive soreness with a sensible boxing training program

Don’t try to do it all at once.

Work on your overall fitness levels and on your sport-specific fitness. While soreness is OK (especially in the beginning), injury isn’t. Listen to your body and don’t let your enthusiasm get the better of your common sense.

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Check out my review of the best boxing training DVD.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

mike March 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I’ve had the sore knuckles before, but just on the left pinky knuckle. More of a ‘twinge’ than real pain, but am investing in some quality gloves for my bag training from now on. As you mention strengthening your core muscles are very important. Don’t neglect to strengthen your lower back muscles.


edgar May 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

i agree on the part of lower back muscles.. Even though i play hockey(which trans the lower back) , i still experience sore lower back muscles . So those who dont usually do any form of sports that trains your back… start slow :)


admin May 4, 2011 at 5:57 am

Yeah, strong back muscles (upper and lower) are the mark of a truly strong athlete. Interestingly, there are a lot of muscles in the lower back that you can’t really feel. They’re the spinal-stabilization muscles. And even if you can’t feel them working, they’re essential to keeping your lumbar spine injury-free. This weight lifting belts article explains how lower-back injuries sometimes occur because novice athletes overwork the spinal stabilization muscles early in training.


chris r August 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

i have a shoulder problem when i punch up with my right my shoulder dislocates i think its the back of my shoulder where it dislocates i am wondering why ?


Al August 27, 2015 at 8:45 am

dislocations can be from a tear in your labrum. I had something similar with my left shoulder dislocating when my jabs were blocked with a sideways pressure. I had surgery to fix it but there’s a lot to consider if surgery is worth it.


Andy November 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

Ive just started boxing. Im pretty fit already but as I have never boxed im feeling aches in areas I dont usually. When Im boxing (training, like shadow boxing and hitting the bag etc) my left lead arm shoulder really aches and burns. Is this due to not being used to holding my guard up and using that specific type of muscle? Thanks


Paul Jenkins February 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I am just starting to try out a heavy Punch Bag for the first time at the local Gym…not trying to become any kind of expert but think the range of movement provides a great workout.

I have started with 10 0z Boxing gloves would be grateful if you could advise if Gel Gloves or Boxing gloves are better for this sort of training.



Ashutosh Jha August 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

Hey.. Oneday out of Hormonal rush.. I fist fighted with 3 different guys, Repeatedly.. which now has started giving me a broken kind of pain in my both the elbows (AS I SHOWED OFF THE POWER OF BOTH MY HANDS)… How do I cope with it… And what may have been damaged.. should I go for boxing training any more and do pushups and other kind of workouts involving my elbow…?? How do I cure it compleely because i faced a similar probelems somedays back after a similar incidence.


Zara August 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm

@Ashutosh Jha: this really is a no-brainer… If you’re physically hurt you don’t go asking people on the internet, you go see a doctor. How on earth is anyone without a medical degree supposed to know what’s wrong with you or whether it’s safe to resume training? I do hope you didn’t go around attacking innocent people, that would seriously suck.


Rick March 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

So, I have soreness on the inside of my elbows. I guess the arm pit of my elbows, if can understand that.

Is that hyperextension? Ive just started training and I love the work out and enjoy understanding how to throw a punch, I don’t want to stop.



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