Given the footwork and movement-related demands, as well as the abundance of lower body techniques used, the prevalence of lower limb injury in taekwondo (TKD) is thought to be high. This descriptive analysis sought to investigate the prevalence and nature of ankle and foot injuries in TKD athletes. 

TKD athletes from the German Olympic training were monitored over a 5-year period, where data for match exposure was recorded. The athletes were screened for foot and ankle injuries, and in the case of an acute injury were examined by a sports physician. 

Among 107 athletes studied there were 112 injuries in 38 athletes. 73 recurring injuries meant that the risk of subsequent injury was 68%. The ankle injury incidence rate (IIR) in competition was 20.9 per 1000 hours, whereas in training the rate was 2.9. The IIR for foot injuries in competition was 6.8/1000hrs and for training 2.7. Ankle ligament injuries accounted for 48% of total foot and ankle injuries. 

Non-contact injuries comprised 63% and contact injuries 37% of the total figures. Significantly more ankle injuries occurred from a non-contact mechanism, whereas more foot injuries arose from contact with an opponent. 

The mean time to return to practice following ankle ligament injury was 5.3 days. 

Given the relatively high incidence of ankle injury in this population, coaches and rehab/S&C professionals working with this population should consider specific injury-reduction strategies. Perhaps more importantly, given the relatively fast return to sport post ankle ligament injury and the high re-injury rate, return to training guidelines should be formulated to optimise healing and recovery and decrease the likelihood of further issues. 

Furthermore, given the high incidence of injury in competition, athletes should take advantage of federations allowing taping and bracing (particularly in the case of previous injury) and work on optimising kicking technique to decrease the likelihood of contact-related foot injury.

#taekwondo #ankleinjury #footinjury #combatsports #kicking #atfl #anklelateralligamentsprain

Willauschus, Maximilian, Johannes Rüther, Michael Millrose, Matthias Walcher, Christophe Lambert, Hermann Josef Bail, and Markus Geßlein. “Foot and Ankle Injuries in Elite Taekwondo Athletes: A 4-Year Descriptive Analysis.” Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine 9, no. 12 (2021): 23259671211061112.

About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

Add comment

By Sam Gilbert