5 Most Common Wrestling Injuries

Wrestling, one of the most demanding and intense sports, requires not only physical strength but also agility, strategy, and endurance. However, its nature makes it prone to certain injuries, which are common among wrestlers at various levels, from amateurs to professionals. Understanding these injuries is crucial for prevention, effective treatment, and ensuring a safe return to the mat.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are prevalent in wrestling due to the sport’s dynamic movements, which often involve twisting, turning, and sudden changes in direction. The knee joint is particularly vulnerable because it bears a significant amount of stress during these maneuvers.

Ligament Tears

One of the most common knee injuries in wrestling is the tearing of ligaments, especially the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL). ACL injuries often occur when a wrestler lands awkwardly after a jump or when quickly changing direction. This kind of injury is notorious for its long recovery period, often requiring surgery and extensive physical therapy.

MCL injuries, on the other hand, typically result from a forceful blow to the outside of the knee, which can happen during takedowns or when the knee is twisted while the foot is planted. These injuries can range from mild sprains to complete tears, with recovery time varying accordingly.

Meniscus Tears

The meniscus, a C-shaped cartilage in the knee, is also prone to injury in wrestling. Meniscus tears often occur alongside ligament injuries and can happen when a wrestler twists their knee while bearing weight on it. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the knee. Treatment may involve rest, physiotherapy, or surgery, depending on the severity of the tear.

Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder is another joint that is highly susceptible to injury in wrestling due to its wide range of motion and the stresses placed upon it during matches.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder, can be injured from repetitive use or a single traumatic event. Wrestlers often suffer from rotator cuff strains or tears as a result of the repetitive and forceful movements required in the sport. Symptoms include pain, weakness, and a decrease in the range of motion. Treatment typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Dislocations and Instability

Shoulder dislocations are also common in wrestling. They occur when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, often as a result of a fall or a direct blow. This can lead to chronic instability, where the shoulder becomes prone to repeated dislocations. Treatment initially involves reducing the dislocation, followed by rest and rehabilitation to strengthen the shoulder and prevent future incidents.


Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, are a significant concern in wrestling. They can also occur from a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes loss of consciousness. Diagnosing a concussion involves a thorough examination by a healthcare professional, as well as potentially using imaging tests and cognitive assessments. It’s crucial for wrestlers to report any symptoms of a concussion and not to return to wrestling until they are fully recovered, as premature return to sport can lead to severe complications.

Recovery and Prevention

Recovery from a concussion involves rest and gradual return to physical and cognitive activities. Prevention strategies in wrestling include wearing appropriate headgear, learning proper techniques, and following safety guidelines during training and matches.

Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are common in wrestling due to the high-impact nature of the sport and the frequent foot movements required.

Sprains and Fractures

Ankle sprains, which involve the stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the ankle, are particularly common. They can occur when a wrestler lands awkwardly from a jump or when the foot twists or rolls, which can happen during grappling and takedowns. Ankle fractures, though less common, can occur from high-impact moves or falls. Treatment for ankle injuries typically involves rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), and physical therapy. In the case of severe fractures, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Chronic Instability

Repeated ankle injuries can lead to chronic instability, characterized by a recurring feeling that the ankle is “giving way.” This condition requires a comprehensive rehabilitation program to strengthen the ankle and improve balance and proprioception.

Skin Infections

Due to the close physical contact and shared equipment in wrestling, skin infections are a common concern. These infections can be bacterial, viral, or fungal in nature.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections like impetigo, folliculitis, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are common in wrestlers. Symptoms include red, swollen, painful, or warm areas of the skin, often with pus or drainage. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and proper hygiene measures.

Fungal Infections

Ringworm, a fungal skin infection, is also prevalent in wrestling. It appears as a red, itchy, circular rash and is highly contagious. Treatment includes antifungal medications and strict adherence to hygiene practices.

Prevention of skin infections in wrestling involves regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment and facilities, personal hygiene, and immediate treatment of any cuts or abrasions. Wrestlers with active infections should be restricted from competition and practice until fully treated to prevent the spread to others.

In conclusion, while wrestling is a physically demanding sport with a high risk of injuries, proper training, use of protective gear, adherence to safety rules, and prompt medical attention when injuries occur can help minimize these risks and ensure the health and safety of the athletes.