Wrestling is a contact sport, so expect injuries or discomfort whenever you practice it, even when using the proper wrestling headgear. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to minimize the risk of injuries and help you stay safe even when training or competing on a new mat for wrestling.
And, although staying 100% safe on this wrestling mat is almost impossible, we reckon the following simple tips will prevent the most common injuries you can get when wrestling.
There are various skin infections you can develop by getting in contact with sweaty mats and unclean wrestling gear. Therefore, hygiene is extremely important, so make sure to properly wash your clothing and accessories, as well as your hands before, and after practicing.
You’ll have to clean your equipment daily by using antibacterial formulas for your knee pads and headgear. The dirty clothes should be put in a separate bag immediately after you’ve finished training and washed at a longer cycle to remove all dirt, debris, sweat, and bacteria.
Mats should also be disinfected and changed regularly to prevent bacteria from forming and getting in contact with your skin. Make sure not to run out of disinfectant products and paper towels either.
Wear knee pads
Prepatellar bursitis represents the inflammation of the bursa located in front of the kneecap and is a common injury wrestlers are exposed to. It usually causes sharp pain and swelling due to the fact that this part is constantly hit into the mat.
Knee pads are specifically designed to absorb shocks and reduce the risk of getting injured and developing this condition. If, however, you develop prepatellar bursitis, you can use additional anti-inflammatory gels and Ibuprofen to treat it. Applying ice on the swollen knees and taking a break from your training for a few days will help you recover faster.
Wear mouth guards
Although wrestling is not as tough as other contact sports like boxing or MMA, you can still end up with a broken lip or missing teeth. Mouthguards are made of durable yet comfortable materials and are specifically designed to protect the tongue, teeth, and the lips from injuries and lacerations.
However, even though mouthguards usually come in different sizes, sometimes the available ones won’t perfectly mold on your mouth shape and size, which may cause discomfort when worn for a longer period. Those who can afford it can choose a custom-made one designed using an impression of the client’s own teeth.
Have a balanced diet
A balanced diet should be based on your weight, age, growth phase, and body size to reach the ideal weight within your wrestling category. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can help you build muscles faster and increase your endurance in the long term. In addition, it will help you stay focused and maximize your training sessions by boosting your energy.
Professional wrestlers should talk to a nutritionist or a doctor before starting a new diet to avoid the common yo-yo effect (losing weight fast and then putting it back after finishing the diet) or health conditions such as anemia.
As a general rule, wrestlers should base their diets on a reliable and high-quality source of proteins, supplemented by fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish oils. All these ingredients will provide the perfect amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that will promote strong bones and healthy cartilages.
Processed foods, as well as those rich in carbs or empty calories, should be avoided because they will make you feel bloated and decrease the energy levels in your body.
Flexibility and strengthening exercises
Although ligament sprains, strains, and tears cannot be prevented 100%, there are certain methods and techniques that will reduce the risks of getting them. The first thing you should do is practice regularly, without taking more than a couple of days off between training sessions.
Secondly, you should start with proper stretching and flexibility exercises that will work the muscles of your lower extremities and help you prevent sprained ankles and other similar ligament problems. The warm-up session should last at least 10 minutes to make sure you train all the muscle groups.
Invest in good wrestling shoes
Another important aspect you should take into account if you want to prevent ankle and feet problems is finding the perfect pair of shoes or boots. Although not mandatory when wrestling, a good pair of boots provide a great grip in order to avoid slipping and increase support for your ankles.
Make sure the shoes are the right size and fit for you to prevent them from coming off when you’re grappling your opponent. The shoes should be lightweight and flexible while also providing enough protection for your heels and toes. They must also be able to absorb shocks and prevent bruises, blisters, calluses, and friction.
Lastly, look for a pair that also ensures maximum freedom of movement and ventilation to your feet. Since you’ll be sweating a lot during your practice, you want your shoes or boots to be able to absorb extra moisture and keep your feet cool and dry for the entire day.
Know your limits
The perfect gear and a balanced diet won’t be able to keep you away from wounds, lacerations, and injuries, as long as you don’t know your limits. Thus, you shouldn’t be afraid of putting an end to your practice if you feel tired or unwell.
Learning to properly hydrate and rest will also help you recover faster after your training sessions and prevent certain injuries.
Moreover, don’t forget to relax your muscles accordingly by performing other activities such as swimming. Alternate showers will also increase your resistance while hitting the sauna once a week will help to deal with sore muscles and pains.