Incidence and nature of karate injuries

Joint Bone Spine. 2006 Mar;73(2):182-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2005.02.003. Epub 2005 Jul 6.


Objectives: To determine the incidence and nature of karate injuries sustained in karate clubs and to identify risk factors for injuries.

Methods: One hundred eighty-six individuals from three karate clubs in Brest, France, were entered in a retrospective study extending from September 2002 to June 2003. Each athlete was asked to complete a questionnaire on karate injuries sustained during the previous year (type, location, mechanism, exercise during which the injury occurred, number of days off training and work, and medical care). Injury types were described by number of injuries and risk factors per number of injured athletes.

Results: Forty-eight (28.8%) of the 186 athletes sustained 83 injuries (63 while training and 20 while competing). The annual injury rate was 44.6 per 100 athletes. Incidence rates were similar in males and females and across the three clubs but increased with age, time spent training (3.6+/-1.7 vs. 2.9+/-1.5 h/week; P=0.001), rank (lower ranks vs. brown and black belts, P=0.015), and years of practice (7.3+/-5.5 years in athletes with injuries vs. 5.1+/-4.8 in those without injuries; P=0.03). Injuries consisted of 43 (53%) hematomas, 16 (19%) sprains, seven (7%) muscle lesions, six (7%) fractures, four (5%) malaise episodes, and seven (7%) miscellaneous lesions. Time off training occurred for 26 (31.3%) injuries and ranged from 8 to >30 days. The body region involved was the head in 22 (26.5%) injuries, the torso in eight injuries (9.6%), the upper limb in 24 (28.9%) injuries, and the lower limb in 29 (35%) injuries.

Conclusion: Karate injuries are fairly common but usually minor. They are more likely to occur during competitions than while training. The head and limbs are the main regions involved. Longer training times per week and higher rank are associated with an increased risk of injury. Prevention seems crucial.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Extremities / injuries
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires