Wrestlers compete one-on-one to see who's stronger and quicker. So when the action starts, injuries can happen. To keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips.

Safe Wrestling Gear

To reduce the risk of injuries, be sure to have the right safety gear, including:

Headgear. At the middle school, high school, and college levels, headgear is required for all wrestlers. Headgear is sometimes called "ear guards" because it has padded shells that go over the ears to help prevent ear and head injuries. Headgear should fit correctly and all the straps should be secure.

Kneepads. Some wrestlers wear kneepads on one or both knees. A knee hitting the mat over and over again can cause swelling. Padded kneepads can help prevent that. Another type of kneepad, called a shooting sleeve, has less padding and is designed to help knees slide across the mat to help prevent mat burns.

Shoes. Wrestling shoes are light and flexible, but they should still provide ankle support and traction on the mat. Be sure to get ones that fit correctly and keep them tied securely with the laces tucked in.

Mouthguards. Mouthguards are a low-cost way to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongue. In many school districts, mouthguards are required for wrestlers who have braces.

Athletic support. Guys should wear an athletic supporter and girls should wear a good sports bra while wrestling.

Safe Wrestling Training

Before starting a training program, all wrestlers need a sports physical. The health care provider can make sure there are no health issues and talk about sports safety. Most schools won't let athletes participate unless they've had a sports physical within the past year.

To prevent injuries during training, wrestlers should:

  • Be in good shape before starting the wrestling season.
  • Always warm up and stretch before practice and matches.
  • Use proper technique.
  • Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain, and get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back to training.
  • Play different sports throughout the year to prevent overuse injuries.

For wrestlers who are trying to gain or lose weight, working with a coach, athletic trainer, or nutritionist can help them do it safely. It is never safe for someone to starve themselves, exercise to the extreme, take weight-loss pills, or get dehydrated on purpose.

Safe Play

Other safety tips:

  • Wrestling mats should be cleaned with a disinfectant cleaner after every match or practice. This will help prevent skin infections like impetigo or ringworm.
  • Wrestlers should know the rules of the game and follow them.
  • Teams should have a first-aid kit available at all practices and matches.
  • Wrestlers should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after practices and matches.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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