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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2018 September;58(9):1296-303

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07536-3


language: English

Injury rates in martial arts athletes and predictive risk factors for lower limb injuries

Jacopo A. VITALE 1 , Tito BASSANI 1, Fabio GALBUSERA 1, Alberto BIANCHI 2, Nicolò MARTINELLI 2

1 Laboratory of Biological Structures Mechanics, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milan, Italy; 2 Department for Foot and Ankle, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milan, Italy


BACKGROUND: Previous studies attempted to identify possible risk factors for acute and overuse injuries in several sports disciplines such as running, gymnastics or team sports. Given the lack of scientific works focused on risk factors for lower limb injuries in martial arts, the present study was aimed to investigate foot anatomy, anthropometric measures, and other background information as possible risk factors of injury in barefoot athletes practicing judo, karate, kung fu, Thai boxing, or aikido. In addition, the injury rates were evaluated in relation with the different martial art styles.
METHODS: One group of 130 martial artists was retrospectively evaluated. Data of three morphological variables of the foot were collected: navicular height (NH), navicular drop (ND), and the rear foot (RF). In addition, each participant filled an interview questionnaire providing the following information: age, sex, body weight, height, Body Mass Index, hours of training per week, the kind of injury occurred to the lower limbs in the preceding year.
RESULTS: Of 130 subjects, 70 (53.8%) did not sustain injuries, 35 (27.0%) suffered an acute injury and the remaining 25 (19.2%) reported an overuse injury. No significant differences were observed in the injury rates in relation to style and kind of martial art. Age, training volume and BMI were found as significant predictors of injury, while NH, ND, and RF were not able to predict acute or overuse injury at lower limbs.
CONCLUSIONS: The injury rates were similar in karate, judo, kung fu, aikido, and Thai boxing. The foot morphology variables were not related with the presence or absence of acute and overuse injuries. Conversely, older and heavier martial artists, performing more hours of barefoot training, are at higher risk of acute and overuse injury. Athletic trainers should strongly take into account the present information in order to develop more accurate and specific injury prevention programs for martial artists.

KEY WORDS: Athletic injuries - Martial arts - Foot injuries - Tendinopathy - Orthopedics

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