Is Arm Wrestling Bad For Your Arm?

Arm wrestling continues to grow in popularity but is it safe to practice or should it only be trained by professionals? Let’s find out

Is arm wrestling bad for your arm?

When performed too much or with poor technique arm wrestling is bad for your arm. It is common for arm wrestlers to develop tendinitis in their elbows, sprain their wrists and nasty spiral fractures in their humerus.

While arm wrestling can damage your arm if you train moderately a few times a week and always use correct technique your chance of injury is low.

To reduce your chance of injury implement the following technical tips:

  • Your should hand, elbow and shoulder must always stay aligned – do not keep wrestling if your body starts becoming unaligned
  • Keep your elbow tucked towards your body and your hand as close to your shoulder as possible – The further away your elbow and hand get the more pressure is placed on your forearm and elbow which can result in a nasty break
  • Warm up before each session – Always stretch your shoulder and arm before training, perform some isometric holds to warm up ligaments
  • Do not go 100% when wrestling – When you are a beginner you have poor technique and are going to make mistakes. To limit the chance of your incorrect technique hurting you train at 50% to 70% until you have strong fundamentals.

What Is The Ideal Body Position In Arm Wrestling?

  • Stand in a staggered stance and your lead leg should be on the same side as your wrestling arm – If you wrestling with your left then stand with your left leg forward
  • Get your hip as close to the table as possible – You want your body as close to your arm as possible so make sure your hip is pressed against the table. This allows you to put your whole body weight behind your arm rather than relying solely on strong arm muscles.
  • Engage your core – Just as the arm wrestling match is starting exhale all the oxygen out of your lungs and take a deep breath into your diaphragm. At the same time expand your core and flex your abs. This helps you generate more power as force can be more effectively transferred from your body through your arm.

What Is The Ideal Hand Position In Arm Wrestling?

  • Always attempt to establish the toproll position – The toproll position is all about curling your wrist towards your own body and attempting to get your forearm facing downwards. To establish this hand positioning you need move your hand over your opponent’s.
  • Get your grip as high up your opponent’s hand as possible – You need to move your hand up by wiggling your hand slightly free of their grip and then once you have raised your grip immediately clamp down to secure it.
  • Curl your thumb to increase your grip strength – Squeeze your thumb as hard as possible and wrap it underneath your own fingers.
  • Never ever loosen your grip, always keep it tight grip during the whole match -You must always engage your muscles and keep a powerful grip but try not to crush. Also remember to pace yourself, you don’t want to run out of grip halfway through the match.

Why Do Arms Break While Arm Wrestling?

Arms break while arm wrestling because of two huge opposing forces caused by a wrestler driving with their shoulder while their elbow is fixed and absorbing the hit of the other wrestler. This large amount of torque runs through the upper arm resulting in a fracture.

The injury is a particularly nasty one and often ends with a very loud cracking sound. It nearly always requires surgery and bolts and screws are used to hold the destroyed arm in place. It can take months to recover from such an injury and certain athletes suffer from permanent lack of mobility and loss of sensation.

The major reason arm wrestlers break their arms is because they place their arm in a dangerous twisting position and then are absorbing and applying huge amounts of force in opposite directions.

This twisting motion and the fact that an arm wrestler must keep his elbow fixed on the table results in all of the force being transferred directly to the humerus where the arm often gives out and breaks.

What Are The Most Common Arm Wrestling Injuries?

The most common arm wrestling injuries are a spiral fracture to the humerus, ruptured biceps, thumb ligament damage, shoulder ligament rupture and dislocated elbows.

Arm wrestling is a dangerous sport and athletes place their arms and shoulders in significant risk by taking part.

If you suffer a soft tissue injury when army wrestling you need to immediately treat the injured site. Use the RICE method — rest, ice, compression and elevation. It is also wise to not perform any strenuous exercise with your injured arm and definitely take a break from arm wrestling.

It recommended you ice the injured area for around 20 minutes and continue to do this every 2 to 3 hours. Elevating your arm above your heart is also helpful to prevent internal bleeding and limit blood flow.

If you injury is particularly bad you need to use a brace or sling to keep your arm secured. If your soft tissue injury doesn’t heal you may need surgery.


Arm wrestling is definitely risky and athletes can seriously hurt themselves. However, if you are sensible with your training volume and intensity and always use proper technique you should be able to enjoy arm wrestling without hurting yourself.

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