Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Epidemiology of time-loss injuries in international fencing: a prospective, 5-year analysis of Fédération Internationale d’Escrime competitions
  1. Peter A Harmer
  1. Correspondence to Professor Peter A Harmer, Department of Exercise and Health Science, Willamette University, Salem OR 97301, USA; pharmer{at}


Objectives The study aimed to determine the risk of time-loss injuries in international fencing and to characterise their type, location, severity and mechanism. Variations in risk associated with sex and discipline categories are also examined.

Methods Data on participation and withdrawal due to injury from 809 competitions comprising the major events of the 2010–2014 seasons (inclusive) for the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime were compiled from official results. Athletes who withdrew due to injury sustained in each competition were contacted individually to obtain follow-up information including time lost from fencing participation (practice/competition) and sequelae.

Results A total of 176 injuries were recorded from 637 776 athlete exposures (AEs) in 85 686 participants (men=47 869; women=37 817) over the study period, for an overall incidence of 0.28/1000 AEs (95% CI 0.24 to 0.32). Men had significantly greater risk than women (RR=1.42, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.94); épée had a significantly lower risk than foil or sabre (RR=0.52, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.76; RR=0.47, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.69, respectively). The majority of injuries were sprains (40.8%) and strains (20.1%), which occurred in the lower extremities (72.4%); ankle sprains were the most common specific injury (25.3%). Intrinsic effort of the fencer (non-contact injury) was the most common mechanism related to a time-loss injury (47.1% of cases). The overall median time loss was 4 weeks; 32.1% of the injuries involved 2 weeks or less away from fencing participation.

Conclusion The data indicate that the risk of time-loss injury in international fencing is very low and primarily involves sprains and strains in the lower extremity.

  • epidemiology
  • fencing
  • injury
  • prospective study design

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors PAH is solely responsible for the conception and design of the study, data collection, statistical analyses and the completion of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests PAH was a member of the Medical Commission of the FIE during the conduct of this study.

  • Ethics approval This study was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of Willamette University.

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

  • Data sharing statement Data developed in this study are not publicly available. Please contact PAH ( for additional information.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.