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Wrestling has been a popular athletic event throughout history, documented as early as the ancient Olympics in Greece in 708 B.C. Today, roughly 2.5 million athletes participate in wrestling in the United States. Because of the high-contact nature of the sport, wrestlers are at risk of injury. Boys’ high school wrestling is second only to football for frequency of injury.

Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team
Preventing Injuries
Common Injuries
Injury Statistics

Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team

Wrestling is an intense cardiovascular sport that requires strength, mobility and endurance. It involves multiple short bursts of explosive movements as well as full body strength to sustain offense or defense. 

Your training program needs to consist of both power and strength exercises. Exercises such as clean variations, plyometrics, and pulling exercises can improve power production and make for a more explosive athlete. Additionally, full body strength training should also be implemented with emphasis on rows and hamstring curls. Any wrestler knows that you can find yourself in awkward positions, so you will want to increase flexibility, focusing on the neck and shoulders.  

Try the following to improve cardiovascular performance for wrestling:

  • Interval training of multiple times of high intensity for a duration ranging from 10-30 seconds.

  • After the bouts of high intensity should be followed by moderate intensity cardio for recovery and build up cardiovascular endurance.

  • Various cardio equipment can be used to complete this ranging from biking, treadmill/running, or even rowing ergometer.

  • After each cardiovascular workout static stretching should be performed to improve or maintain flexibility.

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Preventing Injuries

To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:

  1. Warm up and stretch before and after you play.

  2. Review wrestling technique with a coach or trainer to make sure you don’t develop bad habits that could lead to injury.

  3. Use properly fitting and clean equipment, specifically mats, uniforms, headgear, and pads.

  4. Stay hydrated during practices and games.

  5. An athletic trainer should be present at matches to assess and treat injuries.

  6. Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly those statistically at risk for injury.

  7. Consult with your coach or athletic trainer about ways to prevent overuse injuries.

  8. Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to play.

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Common Injuries 

    • Shoulder pain  

Back, Neck & Spine
    • Low back pain  

Arm & Elbow
    • Elbow dislocation

Hand & Wrist
    • Finger fractures
    • Wrist sprain 

Leg & Knee
    • Collateral ligament injuries
    • Meniscal tear
    • Muscle strain or pull
    • Prepatella bursitis  

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Injury Statistics1

  • The most common injuries in wrestlers is the shoulder (24%) and knee (17%).

  • The most common injury types are muscle strains (30.6%), joint sprains (22.8%), and bruises (16%).

  • The majority of injuries occurred in practice (63%) with less (37%) occuring in matches. 

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Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.

1 "A Prospective Study of High School Wrestling Injuries", The American Journal of Sports Medicine