FEATURED ARTICLE: How to prevent common wrestling injuries
Wrestling today is a sport that takes place when two competitors fight and grapple against each other to gain a position of dominance. It’s popular throughout the world and is even included as an Olympic sport with leagues for women and men.
Wrestling, being a combat sport, has a high risk of injury if proper precautions are not taken before, during, and after matches. If you’re heading into the world of wrestling, you need to be aware of some of the most common injuries, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
While wrestling injuries can be intense, it’s possible to avoid these complications by taking the proper preventative actions in the first place.
Here are a few tips to help prevent wrestling injuries:
How to Prevent Common Wrestling Injuries
Ankle Injuries: About six percent of all wrestling injuries at the college level are ankle strains or sprains. The ankle can take a lot of bending and impact during a match, which is when these injuries are likely to occur. Wearing proper wrestling shoes that protect the ankles makes all the difference. Preventing these kinds of in-match ankle injuries all starts with a good pair of wrestling boots. If you’re an experienced wrestler, you probably already know this. You probably also know what kind of wrestling footwear to go for.
However, if you are new to the sport, then you’ll want to do some research before you take out your wallet. Wrestling shoes aren’t cheap, so everything you can do to ensure you get the proper shoes on your feet on your first purchase, will be totally worth it. Your wrestling will be more fun if you can get a proper start, straight out of the gate.
Knee Injuries: Because there’s a lot of movement that happens from a squatting position, the knee takes a lot of strain during wrestling matches, making knee injuries quite common. Even moreso, muscle and ligament sprains in the knee are commonly known to keep wrestlers off the mat for several weeks due to their severity. Practicing proper form, stretching before and after activity, and not overworking tired muscles around the knee are the best ways to prevent these injuries.
Elbow Injuries: Elbows are parts of the body that go under immense muscular pressure throughout wrestling matches. It’s not uncommon for wrestlers to suffer from elbow dislocations, especially when falling during a take-down. Wearing supportive accessories like elbow braces and stretching properly before matches are the best ways to avoid these kinds of elbow injuries.
Hand Injuries: The hands and wrists play crucial roles in wrestling matches. They help players grip their opponents and bring them down to the mat, but they can also get hit the hardest during falls. Landing on the hands is common in wrestling and can lead to wrist sprains. Proper training for fall prevention can help you learn how to maneuver so that you land safely.
Shoulder Injuries: Wrestling can include a lot of twists, restrictive holds, and impact onto the mat. These motions require movement of the arms and torso all at once, which can lead to shoulder dislocation. Prevent dislocations from occurring by practicing regular strength and flexibility training as well as weight lifting.
Head and Neck Injuries: The most common head and neck injury in the sport of wrestling is a concussion. These are classified as mild traumatic brain injuries that are most likely to occur when one player is taken down by the other player harshly onto the mat. Wearing proper headgear as well as a mouthguard can protect the important parts of your head and neck even when things on the mat get heated.
Safety Strategies for Wrestlers
Wrestling is not a sport for the faint of heart – it requires a high level of strength, flexibility, and understanding of technique to get on the mat regularly and come out safely. Some of the most important safety strategies for wrestlers are proper education and coaching while training for matches.
Injury prevention, for the most part, really takes place before you get to the mat. It happens in the gym during the offseason and coaching sessions during the preseason. It’s understanding how to support your joints and muscles with proper form so as to avoid unnecessary spraining or straining.
Some specific strategies you can implement into your training regimen include:
- Training with a coach who comes from a wrestling background and has years of experience to offer, with a special focus on safety training.
- Target your joint flexibility through stretches and strength exercises in the gym. Focus especially on mobility and versatility of the shoulders, but also pay attention to flexibility in the back, spine, and hamstrings.
- Avoid moves that cause slamming. These moves are usually not allowed to begin with, but coaches must be careful to catch and correct this kind of behavior while practicing.
- Avoid drastically losing or gaining weight before wrestling matches for the sake of meeting a weight class limit. Proper hydration and diet are essential.
- Always wear the recommended safety equipment of helmets and mouthguards during meets and tournaments.
Wrestling is an intense sport, so by nature, injuries are bound to happen at some point. However, certain injuries are completely unnecessary. By engaging in proper training strategies and wearing the proper gear and equipment, many of the common wrestling injuries can be avoided.