12 Common Injuries in Boxing (And How to Prevent Them)

Boxing is known for its violence and stiff competition amongst fighters. Retired professional boxers suffer the residual effects injuries sustained in boxing years after leaving the ring. While some injuries are inevitable, others are preventable through proper training.

Common injuries in boxing include boxer’s fracture, carpal bossing, tennis elbow, and dislocated shoulders. Concussions and facial injuries are also common. Prevention of these injuries might consist of keeping a proper boxing technique and stance, as well as taking enough rest and recovery time between training or matches. 

If you want to find out more on how to prevent these common injuries, so you can spend more time training and competing; keep reading. 

1. Tennis Elbow.

Commonly know as tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis usually happens when making continually snapping motions that involve the wrist and arm. To prevent this from happening, practice proper boxing technique instead of concentrated power. Also, wrap your wrists so that it absorbs some of the shock waves sent to your elbow. If you feel pain in your elbow, give yourself a few days in between exercises to recover and apply cold therapy to the inflamed area.

2. Boxer’s Fracture.

boxer’s fracture is when the bone breaks just below the knuckles, or the metacarpal bones. Your hand will swell, and you’ll be unable to move your fingers. It occurs as a result of hitting a sturdy object, such as a skull, which ends up fracturing the bones. About 20% of boxers will experience this injury at some point in their career.

Wrap your wrist with athletic tape to prevent this from happening, as this can cushion your hands from any blows and prevent serious injuries. Use boxing gloves with robust wrist support, and learn how to punch correctly so that you minimize fracture risk.

3. Concussions.

Head injuries are the most serious of all boxing injuries, and most of the time are unavoidable because of the simple fact that a boxer’s main objective is to deliver punches to his/her opponent’s head. In simple words, concussions happen when the head gets struck so hard that the brain moves around inside the skull. These can be so dangerous that you could die from them if you don’t get medical care immediately. 

Wearing headgear during training and amateur bouts can help minimize the trauma from head blows, but prevention while boxing may not be that easy. Try to avoid head injuries as much as you can.

4. Carpal Bossing.

Carpal Bossing occurs when a lump on the back of the hand (near the wrist) appears. This can be due to repetitive wrist motions and trauma. Wearing proper gloves and wrapping your wrists and hands should help minimize this injury. If you experience this condition, wear a wrist guard outside of the ring and follow your doctor’s advice to get the swelling down.

5. Facial Cuts and Lacerations.

Because the blood vessels in the face are so close to the skin, facial cuts and lacerations happen as a result of successive blows to the face. The friction from boxing gloves also can cause these cuts and tears while boxing. 

While a lot of this damage is unavoidable, you can try to minimize the occurrence by oiling your face and wearing protective headgear, especially while training. Amateur bouts usually require the use of headgear in the ring, yet, ironically, many professional fights don’t.

6. Dislocated Shoulder.

In boxing, a dislocated shoulder usually occurs due to excessive heating, as well as the use of bad technique. If your shoulder seems out of place and you can’t move your upper arm, you have most likely dislocated your shoulder. Avoid putting in back yourself; only a qualified person should put your shoulder back into place. Once it is back in place, you’ll need to rest and recover for sometime before getting back in the ring. 

To prevent this injury from happening, stretch before training, keep your arms close to your body for most moves, and avoid excessive arm swings. 

7. Head Hematomas.

When blows to the head do not create open wounds, the blood vessels still break open, and blood flows into the underlying tissues that produce swelling; this is known as hematomas. While this usually happens near the eyes, it’s also common around the ear (aka boxer ears).

There is not a lot you can do to prevent this, but to avoid any further damage, treatment needs to happen ringside. Cold packs and external pressure applied to the affected area can reduce swelling. 

8. Leg Injuries.

Injuries to the legs can happen if you turn abruptly while avoiding a punch or delivering a blow to your opponent. Sprained ankles or damaged knees can also occur when you’re not paying attention to how you’re turning or moving with your feet and upper body.

Preventing leg injuries is as simple as practicing the art of falling without putting too much stress on your legs or feet. Also, practice throwing a straight punch using your upper body more than your lower body.

9. Spinal Injuries.

While spinal injuries are less common than other injuries, they are debilitating when they do happen. New boxers who try to do too much too soon, might be more prone to this type of injuries. For instance, injuries to the spine can happen because a boxer’s stance is off-center when trying to dodge a punch. 

Training the core and minding your stance should help prevent spinal injuries. Take your training gradually and work up to the moves you want to try.

10. Arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition that builds over time from extreme use that wears the cartilage thin until bones are rubbing against each other. Boxers are especially prone to this condition due to the consistent stress their hands go through with each match and training session. Many professional fighters retire early because of this. 

Always protect your wrists and hands as much as you can to prevent or slow this condition from progressing. Use correct boxing techniques, and rest as much as you can between matches and training.

11. Distal Radius Fracture.

A distal radius fracture occurs when the radius bone near the wrist breaks. It usually happens when a boxer falls to the mat and his/her arm is outstretched, causing the bone to break. To prevent this from happening, be sure to learn proper techniques when falling.

12. Elbow Fracture.

This can happen when you fall on your elbow, twist your elbow too much, or get hit too hard in that area. A lump near the elbow, a decreased range of motion, and numbness in the arm or hand are all symptoms of an elbow fracture. Prevent this by wearing elbow pads, and by keeping your arms close to your body.

Last Word

Injuries while boxing comes with participating in the sport. However, there are generalized actions you can take to minimize any lasting damage. 

Always warm-up before training. Strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and stretching, all work to get your muscles ready for an intensive boxing session. If you start to experience abnormal pain, you need to rest and not train so hard for a few days. Listen to your body and don’t try to train yourself so hard if you experience unexplained pain. If the injury or pain is serious, get medical attention as soon as you can.