Preventing & Protecting Finger Injuries When Wrestling
The easiest way to recognize a wrestler is by their unmistakable cauliflower ear; they wear it like a badge of honor. Unfortunately another telltale sign of a grappler are their fingers. From years of damage you can notice their thick knuckles and finger joints or a crooked finger that’s set in place. Like cauliflower ear, finger injuries come with the territory.
Wrestlers are typically too stubborn to let even a major finger injury prevent them from training or competing. Understanding common finger injuries in wrestling provides valuable insight into prevention and post injury protection. The easiest solution for grapplers is to tape their fingers together or buddy tape them, creating a finger splint, and then resume training. But taping your fingers has some significant drawbacks. For starters, the tape seems to always slip off once you get a little sweaty. It also adds time to prep before training. But the biggest issue with tape is that it limits mobility in your fingers due to the lack of elasticity. This compromises the agility of the fingers and the ability to make a tight fist.
Today with the progress of wearable technology, Grappz™ finger support compression gloves solve the problem that athletic tape cannot. They offer finger protection without compromising mobility and they’ll never slip off. Wearing a pair of Grappz™ is a lot less time consuming and messy than taping your fingers. Best of all, you get more support and coverage than tape but the 4-way stretch compression fabric has elasticity allowing your fingers to fully retract and extend. And they still tightly conjoin your two fingers together as a splint. And. When you’re done training throw them in the laundry to use for next practice.
The concept of Grappz™ originated from grapplers who sought an efficient solution to the numerous finger injuries they suffered but without compromising performance. They wanted to innovate and improve finger protection so their fingers didn’t end up like their ears. While still in its developmental stage, Olympic gold medalist and 12-time WWE world champion, Kurt Angle received a pair of Grappz™. From his years competing at the highest level, he knew they would be a “game changer” for athletes. Kurt wanted to help develop them to be the best finger protection gloves on the market so he joined the Grappz™ team, becoming part owner. Now Grappz™ has the guidance and knowledge from one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Kurt fully endorses the product and is the face of the brand but most importantly, he uses Grappz™ today in the WWE because they work.
Athletes in a variety of sports can use Grappz™ both as a preventive measure against injury and for support post injury. But they’re not just for protection. The two separate sleeves each compress two fingers to work together, creating a synergistic force, helping increase grip strength and performance. Wearing Grappz™ also supports the healing process due to the benefits of compression technology (*see benefits page).
No athlete wants to get injured, but unfortunately it’s part of the game. A severe finger injury could mean time off of training and can also affect numerous areas of life, work and other day-to-day tasks.
Taking the proper precautions can help mitigate these common finger injuries in wrestling:
Finger Fracture/ Broken Finger
Broken finger bone. The four front digits have three bones called the phalanges: proximal (closest) phalanx, middle phalanx, and distal (furthest) phalanx. In a fracture, the phalanx itself breaks. Fractures most likely also come with other injuries including tendon and ligament damage.
Causes: Crushing impact from explosive scrambles or movements. Pulled finger torqued to fracture. Direct impact to fingertip from another body part to breaking point.
Get to a doctor for realignment and possible further treatment then:
- Wear a finger splint (Complete immobilization of the whole finger) OR
- Tape fractured finger to adjacent finger (buddy taping) to provide splint like support but with some mobility.
A dislocation occurs when a bone is pushed/pulled out of alignment from its joints. Directional impact to the bone pushes the finger in a direction where it is not meant to bend.
Causes: Direct impact to a single finger, explosive collision onto a hard body part in scrambles, breaking a fall while outstretched, pushing/pulling a single finger in the wrong direction by opponent, getting your grips explosively broken of in wrong direction.
Joint must be reset. Swelling of the joint. Once the joint is dislocated it is susceptible to frequent dislocations moving forward. Physical therapy and/or stability exercises are required to retain mobility, stability and strength.
Sprains are the stretching and tearing of a ligament –tough bands of tissue that connects two bones together in joints. Sprains or hypertensions are a painful joint alignment injury that is similar but less severe than a dislocation. They are both caused when a joint is extended out of its normal alignment. Hyperextended fingers do not dislocate fully but can cause strain in ligaments and tendons.
Causes: Falling while outstretched, jammed fingers (directional impact at the tip), directional impact pushing finger against the joint.
Rest and apply ice. Minimize use and movement during healing.
Inability to flex finger. Damaged tendon at the base of finger
Causes: Another athlete pulling your single finger. Finger caught and pulled in clothing.
Use ice, rest, and consult specialist for further treatment or surgery.
Knuckle joints, tendons
Description: Finger resembles an ocean wave. The first knuckle protrudes, the second knuckle flexes inwards, and last knuckle protrudes. Pain occurs in middle knuckle and deformity is often distinctively visible.
Causes: Impact to the top of the finger (jams), gripping another athlete or another athlete’s clothing or consecutive sprains.
Wearing a splint, surgery
Long Term Affects of Some or All of These Finger Injuries:
Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed.
The symptoms of Bursitis of the fingers are: Achy or stiff fingers, Swelling, redness, sharp shooting joint pain and the sudden inability to move joint.
Treatment typically involves resting the affected joint and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.
Osteo-Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. It causes cartilage (the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint) to break down. It’s caused from wear-and-tear damage to your joint's cartilage. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion, which all typically worsen with age and trauma.