As a wrestler, you grow used to the all too common question, “isn’t that a dangerous sport?” Whether it’s our mothers asking in concern or our significant others asking in an admiring tone, it eventually gets old. The reality is, every combat sport is dangerous to a degree, and while it’s always important to keep the danger in perspective, as long as you use proper gear, train safely, and condition your body, there isn’t a lot that you need to worry about.
Today, we’re going to be talking about how to prevent wrestling injuries. While you’re in the middle of a match and have the upper hand, it can be very easy to forget some basic safety and injury-prevention techniques. Once you sustain an injury, though, and you’re unable to wrestle for an entire month, you’ll think about them a lot more.
Without further ado, here are the top five ways to prevent a wrestling-related injury.
1. Invest in Some Good Wrestling Shoes
Ask any wrestler what the most common wrestling injury is, and without fail the answer will almost always be “ankle sprains.” Your ankles are a very fragile part of your body. They can support our entire weight, perform quick lateral motions, flex and bend under strain, and propel you through explosive leaps and jumps. However, some things prove far too great of a strain.
One of the best ways to prevent yourself from sustaining a strained or sprained ankle is to invest in some high-quality wrestling shoes. A good pair of mat shoes serves two primary purposes:
When you’re grappling with an opponent, the last thing that you need is for your foot to give out and slip on a slick, sweaty mat. This sudden release can cause unexpected tension and strain on your ligaments causing painful and debilitating injuries. Even if you manage to escape an injury, your slip will almost always result in you losing the match.
The second things that wrestling shoes do is support the ankle. In a wrestling match, there is a lot of pushing, pulling, and lateral forces working on your lower body. One sudden twist or rolling of the ankle is all it takes to have you hobbling around for weeks at a time. A pair of quality wrestling shoes will keep your ankle straight, prevent rolling, and resist lateral strains that would otherwise cause painful injuries.
There are many different types and styles of shoes on the market, so it might be a bit confusing if you’re looking at everything for the first time. Here’s a great article that helps to break down some of the differences between wrestling shoes.
2. Head and Mouth Protection
After ankle sprains, concussions, busted lips, cauliflower ear, and knocked out teeth are some of the most common injuries. These can mostly be prevented by using proper head and mouth protection, however.
To put things into perspective, a dental implant can cost thousands, and that’s just for one tooth. When it comes to doing combat sports without a mouth guard, you can expect to lose a lot more than one tooth at a time. All of this is easily preventable with a simple mouth guard.
For about $10, you can get a martial-arts approved guard that will last you for years to come and save your wallet and mouth a lot of pain. In addition, many mouth guards even come with their own “dental insurance,” which often pays up to $5,000 if you damage your teeth while wearing the guard. Either way, if you have a decent mouth guard, then you’re covered.
In wrestling, you can expect to get your face and head slammed quite a few times. The best way to avoid head injuries is to simply get a good piece of headgear. These usually feature ear covers, a protective headband which absorbs impact, and a chin strap to keep your jaw from slipping.
3. Diet for Wrestling
Wrestling is an intense sport and takes a lot out of your body. If you want your body to keep up, then you need to be giving it the right fuel. Quit eating junk food and drinking sodas. These do nothing but decrease your endurance, make you slow, and can even harm your joints and muscular development.
Instead, focus on eating a clean diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Not only will you recover faster, but you’ll be able to pack on muscle, your joints will be able to withstand more strain, and your mind will be clear.
4. Stretch, Stretch, and Stretch Again
About 70% of wrestling injuries could have been prevented if the combatant had only remembered to stretch before they hopped on the mat. No matter how excited that you are to hop into a match, you should never, ever, ever skip your stretches.
Stretching warms up your muscles, gets your blood flowing, and stretches out your ligaments and tendons. Going straight into a match with a cold, stiff body is the quickest way to sprain an ankle, pop a shoulder, or hurt your neck. Spend at least 5 minutes stretching your arms, legs, ankles, wrists, neck, and back before you begin wrestling, and repeat them again before you pack up and go home.
5. Know Your Limits
Pride is one of the hardest pills to swallow. You spend all day hyping yourself up in your mind, only to get put in a lock that you can’t possibly escape from. Yet you still try. While you should never just “give up,” it’s important to know your limits. When you’re beat, you’re beat. Tap out and move onto the next round. Don’t let your pride get in the way and cause you to injure yourself trying to avoid the unavoidable.
Types of Injuries
How to Prevent Them
It’s common to see a bloody nose at the end of a match. While its common to see wrestlers with a broken nose, the nose injuries are just simple nose bleeds.
We suggest that you wear a face mask until the nose is healed.
Wrestler shoulders can get dislocated in certain instances. This can occur when you’re thrown on the mat or when the shoulder is affected by a leg rider. You should wear a shoulder wrap to help your shoulder heal faster. Make sure that you get a good wrap that allows heat and cooling treatment.
Fortunately, ankle injuries aren’t as common and rarely require surgery. To prevent ankle injuries, make sure that you have good ankle support from the correct wrestling shoes. But if you get ankle injuries often, then you get an ankle wrap. Get a wrap that’s thin enough to be placed inside your shoe and give you extra support.
If you damage your knee on a regular basis, then you need to get a neoprene knee sleeve. Having a good knee sleeve will help prevent torn ACLs and keep the ligaments warm. Most wrestlers have one on their knees.
Most injuries are completely avoidable as long as you’re willing to invest in quality gear, remember to stretch, eat right, and keep your limits in perspective. All it takes is a little bit of attention to detail, and consideration for personal safety. If you follow these five tips, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about when it comes to wrestling.