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Pre-competition habits and injuries in Taekwondo athletes Part 3

Pre-competition habits and injuries in Taekwondo athletes

Part 3

By: Mohsen Kazemi author, Heather Shearer and Young Su Choung


Over the past decade, there has been heightened interest in injury rates sustained by martial arts athletes, and more specifically, Taekwondo athletes. Despite this interest, there is a paucity of research on pre-competition habits and training of these athletes. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess training characteristics, competition preparation habits, and injury profiles of Taekwondo athletes.

Methods

Subjects

Sixty Canadian male and female respondents were recruited for the study. Participants were Taekwondo athletes competing at a national-level tournament. A total of 28 respondents with an age range of 16 to 29 years returned the distributed questionnaire. Four females and 18 males completed the questionnaire. An additional six participants did not indicate their gender on the returned questionnaires. The mean age of the competitors was just over 22 years, with a mean height and weight of 68.6 inches and 148 pounds, respectively.

 

Instrumentation

A twenty-one-item questionnaire (See Additional file: 1 was used to obtain a general profile of the athletes. Areas of focus included: the amount of Taekwondo practice; training satisfaction; protective gear used; pre-competition eating habits; competition preparedness; social support for the sport; and injury profiles. The questionnaire was modeled after one that had been developed for Dragon Boat racers. Neither questionnaire has been tested for validity or reliability.

 

Procedure

The first author was working at the national carding tournament as a member of the health care team. As they entered the facility, potential participants were invited to fill out the survey by the current author and his assistants. Only card-carrying athletes competing in the tournament were given questionnaires. Prior to participation, informed consent was obtained by the participants or their guardians. At that time, any questions regarding the study or survey were addressed. Sixty questionnaires were distributed. When participants were given the questionnaire, they were asked to complete it immediately and then return it to the current author or assistants.

 

Statistics

The Statistical Release 6 statistical package was used for all analysis. Descriptive statistics and Pearson's chi-square test were used. When inputting data, it was noted that certain variables had missing responses. In these instances, the number of participants who completed the questions was used to calculate the results.

 

Results

Training Habits

Training time, measured by the number of practices per week, and the number of hours per training session, is outlined in Tables 2 and 3. Specific activities during training were also examined. The frequency of sparring was reported. Twenty-five percent (n = 7) of the competitors reported sparring one to two times per week. Over 53% (n = 15) of respondents sparred three to four times per week, and over 21% (n = 6) sparred five or more times per week. Pre- and post-training stretching was also reported. Over 40% (n = 11) of respondents reported only stretching prior to their training sessions, and close to 60% (n = 16) of respondents stretched both before and after training. When examining the use of warm-up and cool-down exercises, over 57% (n = 16) of participants noted always warming up prior to training, while almost 43% (n = 12) reported only warming up occasionally. Only six of 28 respondents (21%) reported they always engaged in post-training cool-down exercises, other than stretching. Over sixty-four and fourteen percent (n = 22) of respondents reported occasionally and never using cool-down exercises, respectively.

 

 

 

Table 2

Training Time – Number of practices per week (n = 28)

 

Practices Per Week                                                                                                                                                                 

Number of Practices

Percent

2

7.1

3

14.3

4

25

5 or 6

39.3

7 or more

14.3

 

Table 3

Training Time – Number of hours per practice (n = 28)

Hours Per Practice

Number of Hours

Percent

1

17.9

2

53.6

3

17.9

4

7.1

 

 

The use of protective gear was also examined. Over 60 percent (n = 17) of respondents reported always using protective gear, while 39.3% (n = 11) only used it occasionally. Table 4 lists the type of gear and its percentage use by the respondents. When examining the frequency of missed practices, five respondents reported never having missed a practice even though they were injured. More athletes missed one to two practices when injured, although there were a few respondents who missed a substantial number of practices regardless of the injury frequency. Less time and practices were missed as injury number increased. Eight respondents reported that they had not experienced any injuries. Four cases had incomplete data and were subsequently not used in the calculation of missed practices.

 

 

 

Table 4

Type and frequency of protective gear used by Taekwondo athletes (n = 28)

Gear Used

Elbow Pads

Shoes

Shin Pads

Gloves

Head Gear

Instep Pads

Chest Protector

Mouth Guard

% of Use

57.1

35.7

92.9

3.6

57.1

10.7

78.6

14.3

 

 

Table 5 reports the number of missed practices for the first to fifth injuries.

 

Table 5

Number of missed practices affected by injury frequency (n = 16)

 

# of Missed practices

1st Injury

(n)

2nd Injury

(n)

3rd Injury

(n)

4th Injury

(n)

5th Injury

(n)

None

3

0

1

0

1

1 to 2

5

1

0

1

0

3

1

0

0

0

0

5 to 9

1

1

0

0

0

10 to 14

1

2

0

0

0

20 to 24

2

0

0

0

0

25 to 29

0

0

1

1

0

30 to 39

1

0

0

0

0

40 to 49

1

1

0

0

0

50 to 99

1

0

0

0

0

150+

0

1

0

0

0

 

Injury profile

At this level of competition, 75% (n = 21) had six or more years of Taekwondo experience, with over 57% (n = 16) of individuals having eight or more years experience. Of the 28 participants, only 6 (21%) reported never having experienced an injury. At a value of 46.5% (n = 13), the lower limb was reported as being the region most injured in first-time injuries. The upper limb and back had an injury rate of 18% (n = 5) and 10.8% (n = 3), respectively. Over 3% (n = 1) of participants reported experiencing head injuries. Data for participants suffering injuries are reported in Table 6. Seventy-nine percent (n = 22) of athletes reported they had an injury. Of those, 47 percent (n = 13) had a lower limb injury, 18 percent (n = 5) had an upper limb injury, and 11 percent (n = 3) had a back injury. Thirteen athletes (46%) reported they had experienced a second injury. Of those, 29 percent (n = 8) had a lower limb injury, 11 percent (n = 3) had an upper limb injury, and seven percent (n = 2) had a back injury. Injury rates decreased substantially for those who reported experiencing a third injury. Only fourteen percent (n = 4) of the athletes reported suffering from a third injury. Of those, seven percent (n = 2) had a lower limb injury, while upper limb (n = 1) and back injuries (n = 1) each accounted for four percent of the injuries. Four athletes (14%) reported experiencing a fourth injury while 2 athletes (7%) reported they had a fifth injury. Of those, only lower limb injuries were reported.

 

 

 

Table 6

Injury rates and location of injuries in Taekwondo athletes (n = 24)

Number of Injuries

Lower Limb Injuries (%)

Upper Limb Injuries (%)

Back Injuries (%)

Other Injuries (%)

1st

13 (46.5)

5 (17.9)

3 (10.8)

1 (3.6)

2nd

8 (28.5)

3 (10.8)

2 (7.2)

0

3rd

2 (7.2)

1 (3.6)

1 (3.6)

0

4th

4 (14.4)

0

0

0

5th

2 (7.2)

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The frequency of injuries in training versus competition was also examined. Out of a total of 22 responses, 13 respondents reported experiencing their first injury during training, while nine respondents experienced their first injury in competition. Training was most frequently reported as the time of injury, with eight out of thirteen respondents reporting second injuries occurring during training, versus five out of thirteen during competition. No competition injuries were reported for the third to fifth injuries.

 

In order to better understand the injury data, injury rates were calculated using the basic rate formula: (#injuries / # athlete-exposures) × 1000 = # injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures (A-E). Due to problematic data, only 24 of the 28 respondent's data were used. The overall rate of injuries was 520/1000 A-E. The injury rate was 354.2/1000 A-E for training, and 166.7/1000 A-E for competition. The injury rate for training per hour was 32.5/1000 A-E/ hour.

 

A variety of care was sought by the athletes following injury. Of those respondents completing the survey, 25% (n = 7) did not seek any form of treatment. Another 10.7% (n = 3) of the athletes were treated by medical doctors, 10.7% (n = 3) were treated by physiotherapist, 10.7% (n = 3) were treated by chiropractors, and 3.6% (n = 1) received acupuncture. A variety of treatment combinations were also reported by 14.4% (n = 4) of the athletes. These combinations included chiropractic care as well as various sources of therapy listed above.

 

 

 

 

End of Part 3