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"Injuries in Taekwondo Athletes"

Zetou, Eleni
(Editor/Translator: Kim A.C.C. Taylor)
Physical Training: Fitness for Combatives (2006)


This interesting study sought to explore the rate of injury in Taekwondo athletes. The frequency and severity of their injuries were noted, as well as the mechanisms that caused them. The goal of the study was to discover whether any generalizations could be drawn about Taekwondo related injuries in order to discover methods of prevention.

For the purposes of data collection, a group of 118 Greek athletes was used (64 men and 54 women), all of whom were at a high level and participated in a Taekwondo national division Championship. The average age was 20.45 years, and the study followed these athletes for three years. The fairly long duration of the test and its large group of participants is sufficient that one should be able to take its results seriously, and draw informed conclusions.

Most of the varying factors within a group of athletes were considered, such as age, weight, height and sex. It was found that men were slightly more likely to be injured than women. The types and locations of injuries were noted, the most common injuries being contusions (41% of the cases) followed by sprains (30.5% of the cases, and occurring generally in the instep, toes and ankle), knee lesions (13.5%), broken limbs (11.2%), and broken noses (4.3%). The study concludes that most injuries occur in the extremities, which is logical considering the use of pads to protect the torso and the head. Seeing that a many injuries occur in areas that are not protected, trainers may want to consider, when possible, the use of more extensive padding such as head protection that covers more the bones in the face, or padded gloves for the fingers.

The study also differentiated between the severity of injuries, defining injury as resulting in absence from practices and competitions. Mild injuries were defined as preventing training for less than one week, moderate injuries demanded absence for up to a month, and major injuries preventing participation for over one month. It was alarming to note that injuries occurred with a fair frequency. Out of the 118 athletes, a total of 780 injuries occurred over three years, with an average rate of 2.2 injuries per year. Considering that even mild injuries prevent the athlete from functioning normally, one may conclude that injuries have a substantial impact on Taekwondo athletes. However, the article states &of the major injuries, analysis of the participants answers showed that most of them didnt influence their Taekwondo career. Not all may agree with this statement.

Most injuries occurred during training, which is to be expected since many more hours are spent in training than in competition. The mechanism by which most injuries occurred was determined to be receiving a kick, particularly a roundhouse, and secondly, by executing a kick. Again, there is nothing surprising to be learned by this finding. Taekwondo relies on kicking more than any other action, and the roundhouse kick is used in high proportion. However, this represents the most important aspect of the study. It is stated that &the fact that injuries occurred as a result of receiving a kick may be partially related to unblocked attacks, so it is recommended that coaches should work on improving the blocking skills of their athletes. With this knowledge, coaches will realize that they must make learning to block kicks, or at least better deflect kicks, one of their priorities. The fact that injuries were often caused be executing a kick suggests that there too is an area in which athletes would benefit from more training. Another helpful point was the discovery that all injured athletes who did not undergo rehabilitation we re-injured. Statistics such as that will encourage injured participants to seek proper care.

While the study in itself was fascinating, and brought up interesting issues for consideration, the article describing the study lacked clarity of structure. It was written up in the usual format of a formal study write-up, first giving an abstract, then an introduction, information about the data collection process, the results of the study, and finally a few paragraphs of discussion. However, this type of format results in a far amount of repetition and seems designed for specialists in the fields of physical education or sports medicine. That said, the content of the write-up lacked depth and complexity, more as if it was intended for amateurs of Taekwondo. More specificity in regards to the intended audience would make the article stronger. Also, the lack of clarity resulted in a few inconsistencies. The article states &the rate of mild injuries was 3.5% (8 cases), that of moderate injuries was 62.4% (161 cases), and that of major injuries was 30.5 % (78 cases). This is followed by the inconsistent statement &in point of injury type, most of the injuries were acute injuries. In addition, more attempts at conclusions would be appreciated, even at the theoretical level. For example, it was found in this particular study that more men were injured than women, but no suggestion is offered as to why this may be the case.

It is unlikely that simply reading this article will result in true injury prevention. However, even giving some thought to the subject may suffice to help athletes pay more attention to their vulnerability, and to the condition of those around them. This in itself may help prevent injury, in which case, anyone involved in martial arts could benefit from familiarity with this study.

Annotated by: Lark Powers (December 2007)

Martial Arts: Taekwondo |

Topics: medical issues |



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