According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), men’s wrestling experiences the highest overall injury rate and practice injury rate, beating other sports like football and basketball. There are many injuries wrestlers can experience, with the most common being sprains and strains, dislocations, and separations (especially shoulders and elbows).
Wrestling is a tough sport, and it’s incredibly physically demanding, but there are ways to prevent wrestling injuries. Here are the top five.
Injuries in wrestling are common, but some happen more often than others. Injuries athletes experience the most include:
· Cauliflower ear (severe bruising of the outer ear)
· Knee injuries, especially ligament sprains, meniscus tears, and prepatellar bursitis
· Arm and shoulder injuries, especially rotator cuff strains, shoulder joint separations, partial dislocations, and elbow fractures
· Skin infections, such as ringworm, impetigo, and herpes gladiatorum
Luckily, there are several ways to prevent wrestling injuries, done both on and off the mat:
Wrestlers have the option to wear different types of equipment to help protect them from injury, both during practice and matches. For example, headgear and a mouthguard can help prevent head, ear, tongue, and tooth injury. Headgear with a frontal pad can also minimize the impact on the forehead and help prevent concussions.
Padding and braces, such as for the knee, ankle, or elbow, can help absorb shock and minimize joint injury.
Working cardio and strength training into your routine helps ensure you’re in great overall shape before the season even begins. Work on improving strength and flexibility in certain muscles, like abdominals, quads, and hamstrings, to help prevent knee problems and other injuries.
Training can also increase flexibility, especially through the lower extremities, helping to prevent injury in those muscles. Targeted strength training can increase durability of ligaments and other connective tissues. The stronger, more flexible, and more durable your muscles and ligaments are, the less likely they will overextend or strain while on the mat. Weightlifting can also help prevent dislocations from occurring. It’s best to work with a regular strength coach to keep to a plan that helps achieve specific goals that will serve your wrestling goals and performance. Your strength coach can also teach you how to avoid injury in the first place by making certain adjustments to your routine. This is critical in a sport like wrestling, where physical injury is always a possibility and safety precautions are absolutely essential.
It can be difficult to keep a healthy diet when trying to meet specific weight classes and make weigh in. Most wrestlers follow a strict diet during the season to ensure they can wrestle in the right weight classes. However, dehydration or crash diets can cause you to not be at your best, which can lead to serious injury. It can also weaken muscles, causing cramps and spasms. Work with your coach and/or strength training professional to determine a proper, healthy diet that will provide all of the nutrition you need. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as your muscles will lose power if you become dehydrated, which can lead to injury and impact performance.
Skin infections can prevent you from being able to practice or compete. This is because these infections can spread quickly to other athletes. The three most common skin infections in athletes are Staphylococcus aureus (Staph Infection), Herpes, and Tinea (Ringworm). Wrestlers need to be especially diligent about keeping their skin clean considering how much contact they make with other athletes. Showering before and after practices and matches can stop infections before they begin, and be sure to wash your hands regularly. Never share personal items with anyone, including equipment, razors, towels, or other items.
Regularly sanitizing mats and other equipment can also decrease the chances of getting and spreading skin infections.
Stretching before and after practice and matches, and even on off days, can help prevent a number of injuries. Stretching ankles, legs and shoulders can promote flexibility within ligaments. Stretching also helps your joints move through their full range of motion and increases muscle blood flow, therefore decreasing likelihood of muscle injury. It also helps muscles work more effectively, protecting your ligaments and joints long-term. This is of particular importance for wrestlers who use virtually every part of their bodies while training or performing their sport.
If you’ve experienced an injury, our wrestling injury treatment experts can help you get back on your feet and on the mat. We provide facilities, equipment, knowledge, experience, techniques, and professional care to meet your needs and fast-track your recovery. We also offer strength coaching that emphasizes learning how to prevent wrestling injuries in the first place. Our goal is to help wrestlers improve their performance and adopt good habits to avoid health issues down the line. Call 410-989-3833or fill out our online contact form to start your booking.