Patterns of knee injuries in wrestling: a six year study

Am J Sports Med. Jan-Feb 1986;14(1):55-66. doi: 10.1177/036354658601400110.


Data on knee injuries sustained by the University of Iowa wrestling team over a 6 year period were compiled. There were a total of 136 wrestlers during this time. Fifty-one different wrestlers sustained 136 injuries (64 knees). Multiple parameters were examined for each injury, including date of injury; days lost; diagnosis; side injured; mechanism; occurrence during competition or practice; whether the wrestler was in control, "on the bottom," or both wrestlers standing; type of move being made at the time of injury; how far into a match or practice the injury happened; initial versus recurrent injury; principal form of management; weight-bearing status; and presence of knee pads. Each wrestler's weight class, years of experience, rank on the team, lead leg, and compliance were noted. We found an incidence of 30 knee injuries per 100 wrestlers per year. There were 11.5 knee injuries per 100 wrestlers per year requiring a week or greater time loss. This comprises over one third of all serious wrestling injuries. Exposure data revealed injury rates in matches to be almost 40 times those of practice. Wrestlers with previous knee injuries were at high risk for reinjury. Early season competition is an extremely high risk period. The most frequent injuries were prepatellar bursitis, lateral and medial sprains, and lateral and medial meniscal tears. We noted a relatively higher rate of lateral versus medial meniscal tears compared to other sports and a somewhat common presentation of a meniscal tear resulting from minimal trauma. The lead leg was injured most often. The takedown was the most frequent situation where any injury occurred. Defensive wrestlers appeared to be at higher risk during takedowns. The wrestler "underneath" was also injured more often. Compliance correlated with decreased recurrence of injury. Approximately 50% of wrestlers were found to be noncompliant with medical recommendations. Junior varsity wrestlers lost significantly more time than varsity wrestlers with equivalent injuries. There was no correlation of injury rate with weight class, period of match, timing in practice, or years of experience.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / surgery
  • Body Weight
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Knee Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Knee Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Knee Injuries* / etiology
  • Knee Injuries* / surgery
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Posture
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Sports*
  • Wrestling*