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Wrestling, one of the world’s oldest         Ligament injuries                         If an infection does develop, a doctor
sports is offered at various levels of       Ligament injuries can also occur          should treat it promptly with antibi-
competition, including the Olympics,         during wrestling, most commonly           otics or antibiotic creams. Wrestlers
the American Athletic Union, the U.S.        to the inside or outside of the knee.     may continue to drill or participate
Wrestling Federation, and high school        These injuries are often the result       in conditioning workouts, but should
and college-sponsored tournaments.           of the leg twisting outward from the      avoid bodily contact with other team
It’s a sport for all sizes of people.        midline of the body. First-degree         members until the infection is
Competition rules require that athletes      strains can be treated with RICE          completely resolved.
be paired against each other according       (Rest, Ice, Compression and
to their weight class. Some competitions     Elevation) and the athlete can return
require that contestants be matched
                                                                                       HOW DOES WEIGHT
                                             when the pain subsides. Second and
by age, experience, and/or gender. This                                                CONTROL AFFECT
                                             third degree strains need to be treated
not only allows more people to partici-      by a physician, but they rarely           WRESTLERS?
pate, but also decreases the risk for        need surgical intervention. Anterior      Proper control of diet, preferably with
injury. Nevertheless, injuries do occur,     cruciate ligament (ACL) strains are       the advice of the coach and a dietician,
particularly in the knee, shoulder, skin     injuries that cause instability of the    is the preferred method of “making
and head.                                    knee, and in most cases, require          weight.” If a wrestler maintains his
                                             surgery for the athlete to compete        weight near his weight class limits, it is
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON                         at the same level. The wrestler can       then a simple matter to lose two-to-four
                                             expect to return to competition six-      pounds to “make weight.” Nutritional
                                             to-nine months after surgery, follow-     advice should emphasize daily caloric
The face and head are the most common        ing a rehabilitation program.             requirements associated with a balanced
areas to be injured during wrestling,                                                  diet based on age, body size, growth,
                                             Skin Infections
including concussions, scrapes and                                                     and physical activity level.
bruises. However, knee injuries occur        With deadly infections such as MRSA
with more severity than all other injuries   developing in schools across the          Weight reduction in wrestling, unfortu-
and are responsible for the most lost        country, infection prevention is key.     nately is practiced most commonly
time, surgeries and treatments.              Epidemics of skin infections have         to “make a weight class.” This desire
Specifically, prepatella bursitis, liga-     been known to spread quickly from         to make weight is often influenced by
ment sprains and skin infections are         team member to team member with           uninformed friends and other wrestlers.
among the most common injuries.              the three most common infections          Such extreme tactics as utilizing rubber
                                             in wrestlers being herpes simplex,        suits and a sauna to sweat off weight
  Prepatella bursitis                        ringworm, and impetigo. With so           pose a health hazard and definitely
  Prepatella bursitis is the inflammation    much skin-to-skin contact, it is espe-    weaken the wrestler before a match.
  of the sac (bursa) located in front        cially important to minimize risk by:     Severe dehydration and food depriva-
  of the knee (patella). For wrestlers,                                                tion also diminish muscle strength and
                                               Taking routine and thorough
  the constant stance of being on the                                                  endurance, leading to a weakened phys-
                                               showers both before and after
  kneecaps can irritate the area and                                                   ical condition. Additionally, entering a
                                               practice and matches
  keep the kneecap from moving                                                         bout under these conditions will make
  smoothly under the skin. Once                Wearing clean clothing at each          the wrestler more susceptible to injury
  prepatella bursitis has developed,           practice session                        and illness.
  it’s treated by anti-inflammatory
                                               Sanitizing mats with antiseptic         Recently, most wrestling associations
  medication, such as ibuprofen or
                                               solution after each practice            have adopted regulations to ensure
  aspirin, ice, rest, and kneepads.
                                                                                       control of body weight by establishing

                                                                                        PREVENTING WRESTLING INJURIES
minimum weight certification programs.       Sports Tips are brought to you by the American
In these programs, each wrestler must        Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. They
                                             provide general information only and are not
weigh in during the first two weeks of       a substitute for your own good judgement or
the season. The athlete’s minimum            consultation with a physician. To order multiple
weight is not established as the athlete’s   copies of this fact sheet or learn more about
best weight, but rather as no less than      other Orthopaedic sports medicine topics, please
seven percent of his/her initial weigh-in.

An injury, no matter how trivial, should
be treated as soon as possible. A small      Copyright © 2008. American Orthopaedic
                                             Society for Sports Medicine. All rights reserved.
cut or scrape may not be of much con-        Multiple copy reproduction prohibited.
sequence in hockey, football, or track
athletes, but for a wrestler, even a minor
infection can keep him out of a match.
Any injury should be reported to the
coach, trainer, or personal physician
as soon as possible, so that proper care
can be started. Rehabilitation after an
injury is an important part of preventing
further injury, since a large number
of all injuries result from aggravation
of an old injury.
Injury prevention should be a primary
goal of all participants, coaches, and
trainers. This requires using good-quality
equipment, including mats, uniforms,
headgear and pads. The wrestler should
be coached and supervised at all times,
stressing proper technique and disci-
pline to avoid injury. Proper officiating
can also do much to prevent injuries.
Finally, a well-structured strengthening
program conducted under proper
supervision can help prevent injury and
enhance the athlete’s performance.

Expert Consultant:
Stephen J. Nicholas, MD

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