Reducing high school wrestling injuries: A logical approach H igh school wrestling, specifically folk-style, has been a popular high school sport for many years. Currently, both males and females are participating in the contact sport. With participation comes inherent risk of injuries. Research indicates that high school wrestling ranks no lower than fourth in overall high school sports injuries. The majority of injuries occur to the shoulder and knee joints. These injuries are a result of direct blows to the shoulder and rotational stresses to the knee. And in fact, wrestling practices are the times when most injuries occur. This is due to the fact that more time is spent in practices verses matches/competitions. Due to the high intensity, high speed and large forces involved, the “takedown” position seems to be responsible for many wrestling injuries. This is particularly the case in the defensive position.
In order to decrease the risk for injury during the wrestling season, coaches and participants need to consider the fore-mentioned information in designing sound training programs. The following provides some guidelines regarding areas of emphasis during the preseason and in-season phases of the yearly wrestling training cycle: ■ Preseason: Focus should be on total body power generation through various upper/lower body plyometrics and Olympic lifts and their variations. Work on gaining optimal levels of conditioning through sprint running intervals and moderate/high intensity body weight circuits. ■ In season: Focus should be on working on perfecting technique/skill, agility/ quickness activities that mimic wrestling maneuvers and maintaining strength levels using various strength circuits. Two frequently overlooked areas that are related to injury reduction in high
school wrestlers include establishing and maintaining healthy eating habits and getting appropriate levels of rest. Both sport and performance coaches should be aware of not only the performance-based elements of high school wrestlers, but the nutritional and physical elements as well. Wrestling can be an exciting and highly competitive high school sport. We as health care professionals, coaches and
trainers just need to ensure that all the necessary efforts are being made to make this possible. ✪ David Arakawa is a senior physical therapist with the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes, an extension of Children’s Hospital Oakland. If you have questions about this column, or have a health concern you’d like addressed in the future, email health@sportstarsmag. com.
Health Watch David A. Arakawa
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November 25, 2010