Adding to this site’s archived combat sports safety studies a recent study was published in the Journal of Biomedical Research documenting safety risks for wrestlers who utilize rapid extreme weight cut methods prior to competition. In short the study found these athletes risked hypernatremic reactions in competition.
In the recent study, titled “The effects of Dehydration Before Competition Upon Body Compositions, Leptin Hormone and Ghrelin Hormone Among Elite Wrestlers” the authors followed twenty-four voluntary wrestlers who participated in the camp of the Turkish junior male freestyle wrestling national team. 62.5% of the participants used weight loss practices prior to competition whereas 37.5% of them did not lose weight.
The study found that those who utilized weight loss practices were at increased risk for hypernatremic reactions in competition and concluded that such practices were “not logical”. The authors supported NCAA regulations when it comes to weight loss practices for wrestlers concluding as follows:
In summary, it was detected in the study that wrestlers performed rapid weight loss, which in turn indicated that they underwent some changes both in body compositions and hematological parameters. An increase in POsm, in particular, pointed out that athletes participate in competitions with inconvenient body fluid volumes. This may cause them to give hypernatremic reactions during competitions.
Considering the fact that one wrestler takes at least five consecutive matches in a day in a tournament, it is not logical to lose weight fast before the competitions. However, if it is inevitable to perform weight loss, it is advisable to follow the NCAA regulations and to lose weight over time on a gradual slope. This may help POsm levels to be kept between the desired reference ranges (275-295 mOsm/L). If POsm level is kept between the desired references ranges, this will indicate that athletes are not under hyperosmolar pressure. Thus they will participate in competitions with suitable fluid volume and hydration status will not be a hindrance for the competition performance.
The full study can be found here.