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Medicina dello Sport 2009 June;62(2):177-91


language: English, Italian

Incidence of fencing injuries. Analysis of a survey of elite fencers

Bonifazi M. 1, Rossi S. 2, Vannoni B. 3

1 Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy 2 Department of Physiopathology, Experimental Medicine and Public Health, University of Siena, Siena, Italy 3 CUS, Siena, Italy


Aim. This study evaluated the incidence of injuries in adult elite fencers (over age 18 years).
Methods. An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to the 432 adult fencers taking part in the second national qualification tournament (Foggia, 18-20 April 2008). The questionnaire contained items on sex, age, height, body weight, weapon, weapon arm, weekly practice (hours, sessions, bouts), type and duration of warm-up, competition level, number, location and type of injury sustained in the last three years and whether the injury occurred during practice or competition. Of the 432 fencers who received the questionnaire, 218 (50.5%) responded; six questionnaires were discarded because incomplete or incorrectly compiled.
Results. Of the 212 athletes whose questionnaires were used in the final analysis, 122 were males and 90 females; 138 were epée, 53 foil, and 20 sabre fencers; 52 (25%) were left-handed (40 males and 12 females), with a higher proportion of left-handed male than female fencers (32.8% versus 13.3%; P=0.002). International level fencers (N.=78) practiced more than national level fencers (N.=129) in the number of sessions (4.7±1.4 versus 3.5±1.5; P<0.001) and weekly hours (12h24min±6h13min versus 7h49min±4h39min; P<0.001). The total number of injuries was 202, with a mean annual risk of injury of 31.8%. The most common injuries were thigh muscle strains (28.2%); ankle sprains (14.9%), knee tendinitis (7.4%), and Achilles tendinitis (5%). Occurrence of injury was associated with competitive level (P=0.010), with a higher incidence among those at the international level, and with weapon arm: the mean annual risk of injury was 40.4% in left-handed and 29.0% in right-handed fencers (P=0.026).
Conclusion. The higher incidence of injuries among the left-handed fencers may be because they compete against an opponent using the opposing hand. Further study is needed to establish which aspects (technical, tactical, postural or others) may be related to greater use of musculoskeletal structures in left-handed fencers and related increased risk of injury.

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