Having an understanding of injury epidemiology in a specific sport is important for athletes, coaches and medical professionals. The authors of this paper conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the rates and nature of injuries in competitive judoka. 

Due to the diverse nature of the studies and the types of injuries included, it was difficult for the authors to reach a consensus around the rates of different types of injuries. However, whilst less severe injuries such as strains and sprains were commonly reported, an alarming finding was that head and neck injuries were described as the most commonly occurring injuries, and that death (often as a result of an acute subdural haematoma) and long-term disability (including in school aged children) is higher than in other contact sports. The authors hypothesised this to be due to rotational force on the head and neck.

These findings highlight the importance of optimising correct falling technique and other safety measures, as well as a potential role for specific head and neck strengthening. 

Colonna, Marcelo, Yuri Rolim, Rodrigo Vale, Juliana Castro, Rodolfo Nunes, Vicente Lima, Giullio César Mallen-Silva, and Gustavo Casimiro-Lopes. “Analysis of injuries in Judo athletes: A systematic review (Análisis de lesiones en deportistas de judo: revisión sistemática).” Retos 43 (2022): 560-566.

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.

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By Sam Gilbert