WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Collegiate wrestlers who cut weight through dehydration to compete at a lower weight class were more likely to be injured during competition and no more likely to win, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Wrestlers compete in specific weight classes, and it is a widely held belief that competing at a lower weight offers a performance advantage, according to Dr. Erin Hammer, a sports medicine physician for UW Health.
“We saw a variety of injuries. The highest rate was in knee injuries, which makes sense given the type of power sport, explosive sport it is,” said Dr. Hammer. “We also saw a lot of shoulder injuries and concussions.”
Dr. Hameer said wrestlers rapidly lose weight via dehydration, using saunas, workouts, and abstaining from fluids until after they are weighed an hour or two before the match. After weighing in, they attempt to rehydrate, but complete rehydration takes 24 to 48 hours.
While the NCAA has taken steps to reduce harm from rapid weight cutting, including moving the weigh-in closer to the match time and establishing the lowest minimum weight class a wrestler can compete at, weight cutting remains omnipresent in wrestling, according to Dr. Hammer.
“For every percent of weight lost, wrestlers had an 11% increased risk of injury during competition,” Hammer said.
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