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Injuries in female and male elite taekwondo athletes: a 10-year prospective, epidemiological study of 1466 injuries sustained during 250 000 training hours
  1. Ki Jun Park1,2,
  2. Brian Byung Song2
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine and Science, Korean Olympic Committee, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  2. 2Department of Special Education, Dankook University, Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ki Jun Park, Department of Sports Medicine and Science, Korean Olympic Committee, Hwarang-ro Nowon-gu, Seoul 01794, South Korea; koc-pt{at}


Objectives We aimed to determine the injury patterns associated with training activities in elite South Korean taekwondo athletes training for the Olympic Games.

Methods We collected data prospectively from 2007 to 2016 at the Korea National Training Center in Seoul, South Korea. A sports injury was defined as acute or chronic musculoskeletal signs and symptoms due to taekwondo activities during training sessions. Athletes were assessed by an on-site sports medicine specialist. The elite taekwondo athletes were stratified according to sex, weight class (flyweight, featherweight, welterweight and heavyweight), injury location (body region and site) and injury severity (mild or level I, requiring treatment for 1–3 days; moderate or level II, requiring treatment for 4–7 days; or severe or level III, requiring treatment for ≥8 days).

Results Athlete exposure was 56 160 training sessions that took 249 600 hours. 1466 injuries were recorded in 283 athletes, with an average of 4.6 injuries per athlete annually. Of these, more than half (56%) were mild injuries, with most injuries occurring in the lower extremities (65.5%), followed by injuries to the trunk (16%), upper extremities (14%) and head and neck area (4%). Among these athletes, women had higher injury rates in the featherweight and welterweight categories (P≤0.0001), but there were no sex differences in other weight categories. In general, female athletes and male athletes experienced a comparable risk of injury (relative ratio: 1.55; 95% CI 0.89 to 2.68).

Conclusion In elite South Korean taekwondo athletes, most injuries occur in the lower extremities and were graded as minor. Injury severity depended on weight class.

  • injury
  • lower extremity
  • athlete
  • epidemiology

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  • Contributors KJP was responsible for the conception and design of the study. Both authors contributed to interpretation of the findings and had full access to all data. The final manuscript was approved by both authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study design was approved by the Korea Training Center.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.