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Safety Tips: Wrestling

Wrestlers like the idea of competing one-on-one to see who's stronger and quicker. So when the action starts, injuries are bound to happen sometimes. To keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips.

Why Is Wrestling Safety Important?

Minor injuries, like bruises, scrapes, and bloody noses, are common in wrestling. So are sprains and strains. Less common but more serious injuries include shoulder separation or dislocation, patella (kneecap) dislocation, and prepatellar bursitis (irritation and swelling of the fluid-filled sac in front of the kneecap).

Other wrestling injuries include concussions and cauliflower ear, a condition in which parts of the ear become swollen and deformed.

Wrestlers also can get friction burns and skin infections like ringworm and impetigo from dirty mats.

In addition, to lose weight quickly before a weigh-in, some wrestlers:

  1. starve themselves
  2. exercise to the extreme
  3. take weight-loss pills
  4. let themselves get dehydrated

All four are dangerous ways to lose weight and should be avoided.

Gearing Up

To reduce the risk of injuries, there are a few things to think about when it comes to gear:

Before You Hit the Mat

Getting yourself in good shape before wrestling season starts will help make you a better wrestler and go a long way toward preventing injuries. Start working out and eating right a few months before the season begins. Better yet, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet year-round so you won't need to worry about getting in shape for the season.

Here are some other things to keep in mind before you hit the mat for practice or a match:

While You Wrestle

Quickness and technique are just as important as raw strength in wrestling. Proper wrestling technique involves holds and moves that give you an advantage without the risk of an injury to your opponent. Holds and moves that are meant to hurt or injure an opponent are illegal and could result in a disqualification.

Try to avoid positions and holds that can put extra stress on the shoulders, elbows, and knees. A referee should be on the lookout for dangerous positions during a match, but you should also be aware of them during practices.

If you get a cramp or feel pain while wrestling, ask for an injury timeout. This will give you time to figure out how hurt you are. If the pain doesn't go away immediately, withdraw from the match. It's better to lose one match than to miss many of them or even the rest of the season because you tried to wrestle through pain and made an injury even worse.

A Few Other Reminders

Most wrestling injuries are minor and get better quickly, and many can be prevented by wearing protective gear, including headgear and mouthguards, and using the right technique. To help prevent skin infections, keep the mats clean and stay off them if you have a skin infection. That way, instead of wrestling with rashes and injuries, you can focus on wrestling your opponent.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2015

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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