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Risk of cervical injuries in mixed martial arts
  1. T Kochhar,
  2. D L Back,
  3. B Mann,
  4. J Skinner
  1. Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, 82 Waverley Road, Enfield, London EN2 7AQ, UK;


Background: Mixed martial arts have rapidly succeeded boxing as the world’s most popular full contact sport, and the incidence of injury is recognised to be high.

Objective: To assess qualitatively and quantitatively the potential risk for participants to sustain cervical spine and associated soft tissue injuries.

Methods: Four commonly performed manoeuvres with possible risks to the cervical spine were analysed with respect to their kinematics, and biomechanical models were constructed.

Results: Motion analysis of two manoeuvres revealed strong correlations with rear end motor vehicle impact injuries, and kinematics of the remaining two suggested a strong risk of injury. Mathematical models of the biomechanics showed that the forces involved are of the same order as those involved in whiplash injuries and of the same magnitude as compression injuries of the cervical spine.

Conclusions: This study shows that there is a significant risk of whiplash injuries in this sport, and there are no safety regulations to address these concerns.

  • cervical spine
  • neck
  • injury
  • martial arts

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  • Competing interests: none declared