Wrestling Injury StatisticsAccording to data from the Center for Injury Research and Policy, football and wrestling are the two high school sports that have the highest risk of serious injury to athletes. The National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System states that the injury rate for college wrestlers is 9.6 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures. Of these injuries, the majority occur during competition, particularly during take-downs.
The Most Common Wrestling InjuriesWhile serious wrestling injuries do occur, fortunately, the most common wrestling injuries are not serious and are similar to those seen in other sports. These include:
Bruises and Contusions
Take-downs, sparring, and hard landings all result in a variety of bruises and contusions to wrestlers.
- Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains occur when there is a stretching and tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle joint.
- Wrist Sprains
A sprained wrist typically occurs when a wrestler stretches or tears the ligaments of the wrist. Falling or landing hard on the hands is a common cause of wrist sprains.
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who train beyond the body's ability to recover.
Another serious health problem that many wrestlers deal with includes dehydration while trying to "make weight."
This is the sort of muscle soreness experienced 12 to 48 hours after a tough workout or competition. Getting enough rest often is all that is needed to recover.
The Most Serious Wrestling InjuriesThe most serious wrestling injuries affect the shoulder, elbow, knee and neck. The data suggest that most common cause of wrestling injuries is forcing a joint beyond it's acceptable range of motion. The most common serious or traumatic wrestling injuries include:
The majority of upper body and shoulder injuries in wrestlers are caused by the combination of leverage and twisting during competition.
The majority of knee injuries in wrestlers occur to the ligaments of the knee joint.
Elbows are under tremendous strain during wrestling maneuvers, and dislocations of the radial head are often related to a fall on an outstretched arm during take-downs as the wrestler braces for a fall.
The cervical vertebrae are often forced into vulnerable positions during many wrestling moves, which can result in several types of neck injuries.
Other Wrestling InjuriesThe following list includes other injuries that many wrestlers are likely to have at one time or another. Although these injuries are not on the list of the most common, if you wrestle, you may have or know someone who had any number of the following wrestling-related injuries.
- Achilles tendinitis
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Ankle sprains
- Clavicle (shoulder) Fracture
- Finger fractures
- Groin pull
- Hamstring pull, tear, or strain>
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Meniscus tears
- Pulled or strained calf muscle
- Wrist sprains
- Wrist tendinitis
Safety Tips for WrestlersWrestling require a high degree of flexibility, strength and proper technique to prevent injury. It's essential for athletes to have appropriate instruction and coaching, and to always follow basic safety precautions. Here are some tips from the top wrestling coaches and the National Athletic Trainers Association.
- Train with a highly skilled and qualified coach who specializes in proper wrestling safety training.
- Improve joint flexibility. Studies show that wrestlers with a high degree of shoulder flexibility suffer fewer shoulder injuries, but flexibility of lower back, hamstrings, elbows, and cervical spine is also important.
- Avoid dangerous holds and "slamming" moves. Coaches and referees need to strictly enforce rules to encourage safe wrestling technique and the use of proper safety gear and equipment.
- Avoid dramatic weight loss and weight cutting strategies by maintaining good nutrition and hydration throughout the season.
- Wear appropriate safety gear, including headgear and mouth guards during all wrestling practices, meets and tournaments.
Share Your Wrestling Injury StoryHave your sustained an injury while wrestling? Tell us about it! Share your story and offer prevention advice or rehab tips for other wrestlers.
Darrow CJ et al "Epidemiology of severe injuries among United States high school athletes 2005-2007" [http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/37/9/1798.abstract]. Am J Sports Med 2009
The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. Catastrophic Sport Injury Research 26th Annual Report, http://www.unc.edu/depts/nccsi/AllSport.pdf. Accessed August, 2009.