BACKGROUND: Wrestling focuses on power to weight ratio within weight classes to maximize performance. Previous literature has examined the effects of rapid weight loss techniques and muscle strength on physical and cognitive implications, such as injury, among combat sports. Few studies have focused on body composition changes across a season and its association to specific injuries or injury occurrence. The purpose of this study was to investigate how body composition changes throughout a wrestling season affect the rate of injury. METHODS: Body composition (body mass, fat free mass, and fat mass), was collected using the Dual X-ray absorptiometry. Members of the Appalachian State University wrestling team were tested at four time-points; pre-season, weight certification, mid-season, and postseason. Sports medicine personnel track injury type and date. SPSS statistical software was used to conduct independent samples t-test to identify differences in body composition over the season in injured vs un-injured wrestlers. RESULTS: 35 wrestlers completed DXA at least once. 33 wrestlers completed DXA at all four timepoints (11 lightweight, 11 middleweight, and 11 heavyweight). 18 wrestlers incurred 24 injuries. Body mass (kg) decreased from baseline to weight certification (80.2 ± 15.1 to 75.0 ± 18.7; p = 0.029). Body Fat (%) decreased at weight certification from 15.8 ± 2.5 to 14.3 ± 2.3 (p = 0.024). Lean body mass (kg) declined at weight certification from 64.1 ± 10.8 to 61.9 ± 15.7 for all wrestlers (p = 0.56). At weight certification, wrestlers with injuries to the right upper side (n = 4) had a significantly lower LBM (p = .045) of 3.3 ± 2.5 kg than wrestlers with no injury, 4.7 ± 0.8 kg. CONCLUSION: Wrestlers with upper body injury had lower LBM than uninjured athletes at the time of weight certification. The decline in LBM and FM suggest harmful weight cutting techniques that fail to preserve muscle while losing fat mass. Subsequently, the loss of muscle is increasing an athlete’s risk for injury throughout the wrestling season. Future research should investigate methods of weight cutting that focus on the preservation of lean body mass in athletes to better prevent injuries.

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