boxing common injuries3

Boxing Common Injuries

Boxing is a contact sport, and contact sports can impact injuries. Researchers support that improving your boxing techniques results in less frequent boxing injuries. However, boxing injuries can occur to your various body parts.

Despite being considered by experts as less dangerous than horse riding, gymnastics, and scuba diving, the visual brutality of boxing leads many people to believe it is one of the most dangerous sports out there. As a result, several countries, like Norway, Cuba, and North Korea, have banned boxing altogether. Regardless of your feelings about the sport, boxing can result in minor and major injuries.

There is a lot written on the serious injuries in boxing, such as concussions, brain injuries, and fractures of the skull and facial bones. I want to present to you some of the other injuries in boxing, such as cuts of the face, haematomas, eye injuries, hand injuries, strains and sprains.

Boxing is the only sport in which the objective is to render blows to the head and body of the opponent so as the cause the opponent to be incapacitated. Therefore, regardless of who wins the fight, both boxers can have serious injuries at the end of twelve (12) rounds of boxing.

The head is the main target in boxing, and with the great expanse of facial skin, injuries such as contusions, abrasions, haematomas and lacerations are quite prevalent.

A blow to the face causes the skin to be compressed against the facial bone, and the tissue in between is crushed. As a result, the blood vessels under the skin can be ruptured without the skin being damaged. In this case, blood flows into the underlying tissues and causes swelling or a haematoma.

The excessive and repeated trauma of boxing, transmitted from the MCP joints to the metacarpal bases, creates ligamentous disruption with the destabilisation of the CMC joints, the so-called ‘carpal boss’.


Results: The overall incidence rate of injury was 17.1 per 100 boxer-matches or 3.4 per 100 boxer-rounds. Facial laceration accounted for 51% of all injuries, followed by a hand injury (17%), eye injury (14%), and nose injury (5%).


As great as it is, boxing is not knee-friendly, with all the pivoting and quick changes of direction. For an equally intense workout, try dance cardio or Zumba, which keeps your heart pumping and works your whole body without as much of the lateral motion that causes knee pain.


There are tragic injuries in boxing, no less than football or mountain climbing. But the gains in character and self-control that can accrue from finding a place in a well-supervised boxing gym are well worth the risk.


Almost certainly. Research has long shown that head trauma— something no boxer cannot avoid over the years—puts one at risk for permanent brain damage. Brain cells generally cannot repair themselves (as can cells elsewhere in the body), so damaged neurons stay damaged.


The Dangers Of Boxing Injuries

Any activity that involves blows to the body, especially the head, is risky. Boxing’s controlling bodies and the government have made some attempts to put into place several regulations, such as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, that seek to minimise the dangers. But boxing can and does have some serious effects on the health of people involved in the sport.

Boxing injuries are diverse because they can happen both while giving a punch and receiving one. On the “receiving” side, these injuries commonly involve the torso, head, and face on the “receiving” side. On the “giving” side, these injuries usually involve the hands and shoulders. They may be overuse injuries, or they may occur traumatically if your strike lands badly. It’s important to ensure that these injuries heal properly to prevent future health and performance problems.

Common Boxing Injuries

Head or Brain Injuries

The most concerning boxing injury is a head impact resulting in a potential brain injury. The punch impact shakes the brain within the skull and causes the brain to act abnormally for a brief period. A concussion can result in the following symptoms:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Nausea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Headache

Wearing headgear can reduce the impact of stress and shock that could reverberate through your brain.

Carpometacarpal bossing

What is carpal bossing? Carpometacarpal bossing, also called Carpal Bossing, is a condition that leads to a lump that appears on the back of the hand, right at the junction of the small wrist bones and the long finger. Some of the most common injuries in boxing can end up being very simplistic, so it’s essential to understand where issues come from and how you can tackle them correctly. This one appears when you have a knock on the back of the wrist. It can be hard to find a suitable recovery method, but in this case, the best thing you can do is cold therapy and ice, with rest between activity and respite. We still recommend you seek professional carpal bossing treatment immediately.

Wrist, Hand, And Finger Injuries

boxing common injuries2

Hand injuries are the second most common type of injury in boxing for amateurs and professionals alike. Individuals boxing at home may be at high risk for these injuries due to improper technique, form, and equipment. In competition and when practising at home on the heavy bag, missed strikes can lead to strains in the hand or wrist. Repetitive punching or striking can cause stress fractures, and incorrect form only increases the likelihood of injury.

Jaw & Facial Injuries

Punching impact to your jaw can cause jaw, nose or facial fractures. In addition, jaw injury resulting in TMJ dysfunction may arise with a possibility of a fractured, subluxated or dislocated jaw. 

Facial injuries are quite common as well, especially during training. These can vary from broken bones to cuts, bruises, etc. Thankfully, these will not affect your performance as a boxer. Yet, it’s still crucial to address them the best way you can. Doing that will help immensely prevent permanent disfigurement or, in most extreme cases, disability. Again, facial injuries might not affect your boxing career, but they can leave you with long-term emotional or physical issues, including your nose, jaw function or even your eyesight.

  • Common Jaw Injuries

Bruises and cuts

Cuts and bruises are also widespread injuries in boxing. You can encounter them while training or during a match. Bruises often appear when you are punched repeatedly in the same area. Cuts can occur when you hit something very sharp or receive a powerful punch against a bony prominence area. You must clean the wound straight away, disinfect it and then cover it the best way you can. These cuts and bruises can appear anywhere on your body, so you never really know when and how they appear. However, boxing head cut is one of the most common types of cut a boxer can suffer from. It is tough to prevent cuts and bruises in boxing. All you have to do is find the right way to avoid them, and if you encounter these, seek medical assistance quickly.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can occur through repetition of impact. Common injuries include rotator cuff injuries or shoulder dislocation. A powerful strike starts from the feet, works its way up the kinetic chain, gathering power, and translates through the shoulder to the hand (Clarkson) (Mansfield). Because of this, boxers run the risk of sustaining rotator cuff strains or labral and rotator cuff tears. Over the long term, people who box can suffer chronic shoulder pain or conditions such as impingement or bursitis.

  • Common Shoulder Injuries

Strain injuries

We noticed the most common wrist injuries in boxing come from strain injuries. However, this type of injury can also happen to your feet, calves, knees, back and neck. Dealing with strain injuries will not be easy since it takes time for your body to recover. Therefore, tackling can be rather challenging, but you will have no problem getting the best possible results and experience with the right approach.

Chronic Back And Neck Pain

Low back pain is prevalent among normal, non-athletic populations (NIH). Low back pain can be debilitating, whether from poor posture or weak core and glute muscles. For athletes and boxers, neck and back pain often comes from grappling, the impact of strikes, or a faulty fighting stance.


There are many ways to get a concussion from boxing. A concussion in boxing is a severe injury, and it comes due to repeated blows to the head. The boxing concussion symptoms can surge from the brain moving around inside the skull, resulting in a confused, sometimes dazed state. A good physiotherapist knows boxing concussion guidelines and can spot an undiagnosed concussion so you can find medical treatment quickly for the best possible results. If you believe you are suffering from this type of injury, we strongly recommend you contact a physiotherapist near you as fast as possible.

Boxer’s Fracture

Boxer’s fracture is a fracture that occurs in the metacarpal bones, the bones in your hand that run from the wrist and join up with the fingers. It most commonly occurs due to punching an immobile object, and the damage is usually sustained to the bones below the ring and little fingers, although it can occur in others. In addition, fractures in the nose, jaw, and ribs are not uncommon.

If you sustain the injury, you will notice pain and swelling immediately. You will also find it difficult to move the fingers above the fracture, and bruising will soon set in. About 20% of boxers will experience this injury at some point.

Boxer’s knuckle 

The truth is that such an injury can be extremely problematic. It’s mostly related to the first knuckle of a finger and the adjacent structure. This injury can involve the bone, joint cartilage, skin and even the metacarpal head’s ligaments. It’s another common injury for many boxers, especially those who have a habit of hitting very hard. You can avoid this injury with proper training, but there is always a risk of dealing with it at some point during your boxing career. The boxer’s knuckle healing time can be from 3 weeks to 12 weeks. If you are affected by a boxer’s knuckle, you will need to receive the right boxer’s knuckle treatment from your physiotherapist.

Neck, Back & Rib Injuries

Boxing can injure your spine or ribs through impact or overstraining. An impressive set of core stability muscles will not only protect your spine from injury but also improve your punching power and ability to absorb the impact of a punch.

Eye Injuries

Although protected by hard bone on the side, eyes are vulnerable to direct hits below. In boxing, damage to the eyes can result from direct contact or shock waves. Depending on the force of the blow, damage may result in injury to the retina, retinal detachment, retinal hemorrhage, and other injuries.

Boxing Lower Back Injuries

Some boxers may report lower back stiffness due to the shear forces imposed on the active and passive structures during rotational movements. In addition, common conditioning training methods like running and skipping may also load the back in extension, leading to pain or stiffness in the lower back.

Achilles tendinopathy

boxing common injuries

Achilles tendinopathy is the type of condition that leads to pain, stiffness and swelling in the Achilles tendon. Frequent injuries to the Achilles tendon can cause this type of issue. Thankfully, treating this injury with the right Achilles tendinopathy exercises can make a huge difference. However, expect the recovery process to be rather lengthy, even with the best Achilles tendinopathy treatment. Achilles tendinopathy symptoms can include pain at the back of your heel, stiffness, swelling tenderness and in some extreme cases, you can hear some crackling noise when you move your ankle. Your physiotherapist will likely help you recover with Achilles tendinopathy eccentric exercises.

Brain Diseases

Ex-boxers are more vulnerable to the natural aging of the brain and diseases. They may be more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This is because boxers’ brains are smaller, and the surface grey matter is thinner. The ventricles within the brain are enlarged because of the decrease in the brain’s white matter.

Boxing Elbow Injuries

Elbow pain, when boxing, may stem from repetitive overextension or tendonitis symptoms in the tricep and forearm muscle groups. This is due to the repeated, high force muscular contractions.

The Nature Of Boxing Injuries

To date, only one study has explored the incidence of different types of boxing hand injuries2. Accordingly, noble assessed 100 consecutive boxing hand injuries in 86 boxers presenting either post-match or in the South African Boxing Board of Control office. In this study, Noble reported that:

  • 23% of hand injuries involved tears of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of the thumb (also called ‘skier’s thumb’).
  • 10% involved carpometacarpal (CMC) joint injuries of the thumb (Bennett’s fracture and dislocation).
  • 12% involved damage to the second to the fifth MCP joints (also called ‘boxer’s knuckle’).
  • 12% involved inflammation of the second to fifth CMC joints.
  • 12% involved subluxation of one or more metacarpal bases (traumatic carpal boss).
  • 8% involved metacarpal fractures of the second to fifth metacarpals, with the majority of these occurring in the neck of the fifth metacarpal (‘boxer’s fracture’).

Risks in Boxing

Boxing is dangerous. The number of boxers who have died due to the sport is not known, but it does appear that boxing death rates are much lower than in some sports, such as horse racing.

Reliable data is affected by differences in regulation between amateur and professional boxing, illegal boxing events, regulative bodies worldwide function, lack of long-term studies and medical inaccuracy in relating the apparent minor injury to later medical events.

What should you do?

In this article, we listed the most common injuries in boxing. If you often train or fight others, the potential of encountering one of them during your boxing career is relatively high. However, it can take some time and experience to figure out the right treatment for your specific situation.

The truth is these common injuries in boxing are treatable. But you can also prevent most of them if you pay attention to how you train, the way you hit and how you recover as a whole if you suffer from any of these injuries. 

You will have no problem getting some extraordinary results with the right regime. Of course, it will take you some time to do that right, but at the end of the day, you need to be cautious at all times. Strong punches and lack of recovery time can be a problem. Also, make sure that you put your safety first to get the utmost benefits and prevent injuries!

Safety Tips

If you’re interested in learning to box, having the proper safety equipment can go a long way to reduce the risk of injury.

For example, whether you’re training or sparring, you should use headgear, hand wraps, and a mouthpiece. It would help if you also had gloves that weigh a minimum of 16 ounces.

Other safety tips for boxers include:

  •  Put petroleum jelly on the face so that punches slide off if someone contacts it.
  • After you work out or spar, use ice. It’s an excellent way to reduce inflammation and soreness, and it can help you heal faster and prevent further injuries from developing.
  • After you spar or work out, ensure you get plenty of rest to promote healing.
  • When you’re going to work out or spar, you should stretch beforehand, reducing the risk of injuries like strains and sprains on the muscles.
  • If you’re well-conditioned and in good shape, you’re less likely to get injured. Find a boxing coach who can help you if you don’t have one already.
  • Learn defensive boxing strategies.

Overall, while boxing has inherent risks, you can prevent many injuries by using your common sense, having the right equipment, and knowing when to give your body a break. Unfortunately, when you don’t initially treat an injury, that’s what tends to lead to chronic complications.


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