Martial arts is a form of sport mainly used for combat and self-defence, eg. taekwondo, judo, kungfu etc. A lot of these sports originated from East Asia, and can look a bit similar to those unfamiliar with them. In this article, I will be talking about the top 3 most injured body parts in Judo, a martial art that originated in Japan which involves mainly grappling and throwing.
The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the human body with the widest range of motion. It is also the easiest to get dislocated when a judo athlete lands awkwardly during a throw. Once dislocated, the shoulder joint is at risk of subsequent dislocations if the initial dislocation is not managed well.
The elbow joint is a hinged joint that can flex, extend and rotate. In judo, the elbow joint can be dislocated if the athlete’s arm has been pulled and twisted with excessive force, or hyperextended while grappling with the opponent during groundwork or “newaza”.
The knee joint is another hinged joint in our body that can only flex and extend, with very minimal amount of rotation available. During Judo sparring, a lot of throwing techniques involve an opponent hooking the athlete’s knee to throw him off balance, which if the athlete does not counter this movement, can end up falling over his knee in a twisted position, which results in meniscus tears or in worse cases, a rupture in the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. (PS: The meniscus is a crescent-shaped cartilage that is located inside the knee joint to help shock absorption and reduce friction during movement in the knee – we have two meniscii in each knee. The ACL is a strong ligament in the knee that prevents excessive movement of the shin bone.)
Pocecco, E., Ruedl, G., Stankovic, N., Sterkowicz, S., Del Vecchio, F., & Gutiérrez-García, C. et al. (2013). Injuries in judo: a systematic literature review including suggestions for prevention. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, 47(18), 1139-1143.