Is Wrestling Dangerous?

Dangerous is a relative term when it comes to discussing wrestling. While some wrestling moves such as suplexes and powerbombs can cause serious injury, others are relatively safe. The majority of injuries that occur during amateur or professional wrestling matches are minor, such as bruises or scrapes.

In this article, we will discuss if wrestling is dangerous and why, what injuries can be caused, and what can be done to prevent it from happening.

an injured wrestler after a dangerous move

Table of Contents

Wrestling in a Nutshell

Wrestling is a physical activity that involves two or more competitors attempting to gain and maintain control of their opponent by using a variety of holds, throws, and other techniques. There is a wide range of wrestling styles, from amateur collegiate wrestling to professional wrestling and other unique forms like Glima, Igbo, Sumo, and other cultural styles.

How Dangerous is Wrestling?

The answer to this question largely depends on the type of wrestling being done and how experienced the wrestlers are. Amateur wrestling is generally a lower-risk form of wrestling as it is typically practiced under more controlled conditions and the wrestlers have been trained in proper techniques, while professional wrestling can be more dangerous due to the fact that it is done at a faster pace and with less regard for safety as well as virtuoso moves which are more dangerous to control and perform similar to the circus stunts.

Furthermore, injuries due to inexperience are more common in amateur wrestling than in professional wrestling as inexperienced wrestlers may not know how to properly execute a move or have the strength to hold an opponent, as well as use too much aggression during a match.

Why is Wrestling Dangerous?

The main reason why wrestling is considered dangerous is due to the contact involved. Wrestling involves intense physical contact between two opponents, which can lead to serious injuries.

The most common wrestling-related injuries involve sprains, strains, and contusions. Wrestlers can also suffer from broken bones, concussions, lacerations, muscle tears, heat exhaustion, and dehydration.

In addition to these physical dangers, wrestlers may also be exposed to communicable diseases such as ringworm or staph infection if they are involved in contact with another wrestler.

Additionally, wrestlers must take care to avoid the sharp objects and weapons that may be used in some forms of wrestling such as professional wrestling.

Is Wrestling More Dangerous Than Other Sports?

Wrestling can generally be considered to be a safer sport than many contact sports such as football, rugby, or hockey. While it is true that wrestling involves physical contact between two opponents, the rules and regulations of amateur and professional wrestling ensure that most moves are performed safely with minimal risk of injury.

In comparison to other sports, wrestling does not require a great deal of running or jumping, which can reduce the risk of injuries such as sprains and strains. For example, when comparing wrestling vs basketball, the latter has a higher rate of ACL tears due to the running and jumping involved.

When comparing wrestling vs football, the latter has a higher rate of head and neck injuries due to the tackling involved as well as a higher probability of broken bones due to the contact between players.

Additionally, wrestling usually has fewer participants on the mat than other contact sports, which decreases the likelihood of collisions that could lead to injury.

What is the Most Dangerous Wrestling Move?

The most dangerous wrestling move is the pile driver, which involves the wrestler grabbing their opponent and then slamming them back-first onto the mat. This move can cause serious and permanent damage to the cervical spine, neck, and head.

Pile drivers should only be attempted by experienced wrestlers who are confident in their ability to safely and accurately execute the move.

Other dangerous wrestling moves include suplexes, which can cause serious neck injuries, and the powerbomb, which can cause facial injuries due to their intensity.

In addition, any move that involves lifting or slamming an opponent with excessive force or using scissors can also cause serious injuries while grips can also cause minor (and even serious) injuries if done at the wrong angle and with excessive force, especially when the joints haven’t been warmed enough.

Is High School Wrestling a Dangerous Sport?

High school wrestling is generally considered to be a safe sport, as experienced coaches and referees are present to ensure that the rules are followed and proper techniques are used.

Additionally, the high school governing bodies have established rules that are designed to limit contact and reduce the likelihood of injury. The percentage of wrestlers who suffer injuries during a high school wrestling season is usually lower than in other contact sports such as football and hockey.

That being said, high school wrestlers should still wear protective gear and take the proper precautions to ensure their safety while on the mat. They should also be aware of the potential risks associated with wrestling and take measures to reduce their risk of injury.

What Injuries Can Be Caused by Wrestling? 

1. Sprains and strains

Wrestlers can suffer from sprains or strains due to overstretching or tearing of ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

2. Contusions

Wrestlers can suffer contusions due to contact with another wrestler or the mat.

3. Broken bones: Wrestlers can suffer fractures or broken bones due to excessive force.

4. Concussions

Wrestlers can suffer concussions if they are thrown or slammed onto the mat with excessive force.

5. Neck and back injuries

Wrestlers can suffer serious neck or back injuries due to moves such as pile drivers or suplexes.

6. Cuts and scrapes: Wrestlers can suffer cuts and scrapes due to contact with the mat or other wrestlers.

7. Heat-related injuries

Wrestlers can become dehydrated or suffer from heat stroke due to the physical demands of the sport.

8. Infections

Wrestlers can suffer from skin infections due to contact with another wrestler or unclean mats.

9. Psychological injuries

Wrestlers can suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety due to the physical demands of the sport or the pressures of competition.

10. Eye injuries

Wrestlers can suffer eye injuries due to contact with fingers or objects on the mat.

11. Shoulder separations

Wrestlers can suffer shoulder separations due to excessive force or incorrect technique.

12. Knee injuries

Wrestlers can suffer from knee injuries due to excessive force or incorrect technique.

13. Joint dislocations

Wrestlers can suffer from joint dislocations due to incorrect technique or excessive force.

14. Vertebral fractures

Wrestlers can suffer vertebral fractures due to excessive force or incorrect technique.

15. Muscle tears

Wrestlers can suffer muscle tears due to excessive force or incorrect technique.

16. Nerve damage

Wrestlers can suffer nerve damage due to incorrect technique or excessive force.

17. Spinal cord injuries

Wrestlers can suffer spinal cord injuries due to incorrect technique or excessive force.

Tips for Making Wrestling Less Dangerous

It’s possible to make wrestling a safer sport with the following tips:

1. Always wear the proper protective gear:

Protective gear such as headgear, mouthguards, and kneepads can help minimize the risk of injury.

2. Practice proper technique

It is important to practice proper wrestling techniques in order to reduce the risk of injuries caused by incorrect form or excessive force.

3. Warm up before every match

Warming up helps to loosen muscles and prepare them for the physical demands of wrestling.

4. Stay hydrated

Wrestlers need to stay adequately hydrated in order to prevent dehydration and heat-related injuries.

5. Listen to your coaches

Coaches are there to guide you, so it is important to listen to their instructions and advice during practice and matches.

6. Take breaks when needed

If you start to feel tired, it is important to take a break and rest in order to prevent injuries caused by over-exertion or exhaustion.

7. Recognize the signs of an injury

If you experience any pain or discomfort during practice or a match, it is important to stop wrestling and seek medical attention immediately.

8. Follow your doctor’s advice

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and restrictions if you have suffered an injury in order to ensure that you heal properly and can return safely to the mat.

9. Use proper safety equipment

It is important to use the proper safety equipment and mats to minimize the risk of injuries caused by contact with hard surfaces or objects.

10. Have fun

Remember that wrestling is a sport, so it is important to have fun and enjoy yourself while also taking safety precautions.


Wrestling can be a dangerous sport, in all of its styles and disciplines. However, taking the necessary safety precautions can reduce the risk of serious injury. It is important to wear protective gear, practice proper technique, and listen to your coaches in order to stay safe on the mat.

Additionally, it is important to take breaks when needed and seek medical attention if you experience any pain or discomfort. By following these tips, you can make wrestling less dangerous and enjoy the sport for years to come.