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Greco-Roman wrestling is a style of wrestling that is practiced worldwide. Originating from Ancient Greece, it reappeared in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has been performed in every edition of the Olympic Games since then (1). Two wrestlers compete and are being evaluated by their performance in 3 two-minute periods, which can be terminated sooner by a pin.
For this paper we are going to examine an elite 16 year old Greco-Roman wrestler who aims to improve lower body strength, lower body explosiveness, as wells as aerobic capacity to achieve satisfying values, compared to the median profile of an elite adolescent wrestler.
There is little biomechanical analysis on the sport of wrestling for the reason that it is a sport that involves every muscle group of the body, in their full range of motion. In wrestling due to the reason that athletes try to submit their opponents to the ground, fight against their opponents or keep balance so as to not to be thrown, their bodies can take every possible position to ensure that the opponent does not dominate (2). So specific motions do not are not a common phenomenon in a wrestling competition or training.
Wrestling composes of whole body movements in full range of motion of the joints. All the muscles in the body are highly activated when wrestling intensively (3). All of the 3 types of contractions are often executed in wrestling, but there is a bigger amount of isometric contractions than other sports.
Wrestling is a demanding and complex sports field and an extremely dynamic activity, which requires high levels of anaerobic power, strength, agility and flexibility (4). Competitions are consisting of periods of maximal effort and maximum intensity anaerobic power, with submaximal effort periods between them. Studies indicate that the general physiological profile of elite wrestlers is: high anaerobic power and capacity, muscular strength, an above average aerobic power, flexibility, low fat percent values (typically 5-10% body fat) and a mesomorphic body type (5,6).
Specifically for the needs of this paper detailed values are needed for maximum repetition values on bench press, squat and maximum oxygen consumption values.
Norms for the selected tests
The maximal oxygen uptake of Korean national and international wrestlers taking part in international competition has been shown to be about 53 to 56 (ml·kg-1·min-1)(6). Those values are considered to be an acceptable profile of an elite wrestler. And have been used as a standard norm in many studies (7).
The squat maximum repetition test (MR) has been used widely in wrestling for evaluation of lower body strength. In a study done in junior young students (16.05±1.09 years old) the Greco-Roman group that was tested in squat MR test had values of 101.94 ±23.83 kg (8). The international values, of weight lifted compared to bodyweight, for wrestling athletes is 1,79 kg*kg^-1 (7).
Countermovement jump has been used extensively in the evaluation of lower extremity explosiveness. Lower-extremity muscular power can be important in a wrestling competition to lift an opponent or resist to a technique by the opponent (9). In wrestling, a study conducted U.S. Wrestling Team showed that Greco-Roman wrestlers had an average of 62.0 cm in vertical jump height after a countermovement phase (9).
In the Greco-Roman style, athletes are not allowed to their opponents below the waist, while this is not so in the freestyle. However, in both types, the athletes must struggle extremely hard to dominate over the strength of their opponent and at the same time try to force and break their rival’s defense once he is down on the mat. In this competition all parts of the body are involved in voluntary motions and involuntary motions in other times, which are focused at overpowering the resistance and strength of the opponent wrestler. During this process, bio-mechanical forces are affect both athletes, which in some occasions may induce undesirable consequences, including injury in different parts of the body (2).
A research conducted on injured wrestlers, showed that the highest incidence of injuries were to the athletes’ skin (62%), followed by muscle (22%), bones (9%) and joints (7%), respectively (2). Focusing on the region of injury involvement, it was presented that 33.3% of the injuries occurred in the upper extremities. In another study carried out.in adolescent and preadolescent boys, the primary areas of injury were to the upper extremities (33%), and the neck and back (24%) (8).
Those findings can be explained because in Greco-Roman style, most of the techniques are executed so as to bring the rival down and defeat him, use the trunk muscles. The results of such mechanical actions on the opponent’s body will be a crash fall on the mat, with the possibility of injurious involvement of the skin, followed by very high pressure to the trunk. Additionally, after the landing on the mat, additional pressure is put on the trunk by rubbing the body on the mat surface, which can cause to simultaneous injuries of the skin, neck and trunk, as well (2).
Wrestling in general has its own risk of injury, as with any other type of sports. Nevertheless, the high occurrence of sports injuries in wrestling requires special attention and good preparation of the athletes and awareness and support by sports authorities, trainers and coaches (10). Proper strengthening of the muscles of the limbs and lower back is required prior high intensity training or competition to ensure durability of the tissue against forces and impacts.
There have been suggested numerous tests to evaluate the physical aspects relevant with wrestling (8).
VO2max: Bruce Test is a test used for assessing Vo2max on treadmill (8). Work load is increased gradually by increasing speed and incline. The athlete eventually is exhausted and VO2max is estimated.
Upper body strength: Maximum repetition test (RM) for bench press has been considered a valid method for evaluating a wrestlers upper body strength (8). Lying on the bench in a supine position, the subject holds the bear with overhand grip and with the hands approximately shoulder width apart. Lifting the bar from bench, he then pulls it down on the chest, and then extends the elbows fully, without locking them. For the warm up prior to the test the subject executes 5-10 reps with 30-40% of body weight and rest for 1 minute, then add 4-9 kg on the bar so that he can lift it in 3-5 reps and rest for two minutes, then keeps adding weight until he can lift the weight correctly just one time.
Lower body strength: Maximum repetition test (RM) for squat has been considered a valid method for evaluating a wrestlers lower body strength. Using back squat test, the subject from a standing position, with feet shoulder width apart, goes under the squat device and puts the bar on his shoulders, and while keeping a straight back, sits 90 degrees and stands up. To prevent spine injuries, the spine can use a belt. For the warm up prior to the test the subject executes 5-10 reps with 30-40% of his body weight and rests for 1 minute, then performs squat adding 14-18 kg weight until he can lift it in 3-5 reps and rest for 2 minutes, then keeps adding weight until he can lift the weight correctly just one time.
Leg explosiveness: Countermovement jump is a valid method to test a wrestlers lower extremity explosiveness (8). Instead of executing a countermovement jump with on a jump mat that automatically estimates the height jumped, a field test could alternate the lack of scientific equipment. A graded tape is attached to wall. With chalked fingertips, the subject stands in front of the wall with both arms extended overhead and with feet and chin touching the wall. The subject touches and marks the point where his fingertips touch the tape on the wall. For the jump, the subject jumps after executing a rapid squat so as to gain vertical momentum, and touches the tape at the highest point possible. The difference between pre and post jump touch marks is calculated as: VJ = maximal jump height – initial reach height. An alternative method is for the subject to jump and push away vanes on an instrument, and the number of vanes pushed is assigned to a jump height.
Hand grip strength: Perhaps the most common test conducted in the world of wrestling is the measurement of the strength of the hand grip by utilizing a hand dynamometer (4). The subject holds the dynamometer, with the arm extended and the elbow by the side of the body. Then the subject squeezes the dynamometer with maximum isometric effort, for about 5 seconds. No other movement is allowed. There should be strong encouragement to the subject to give a maximum effort.
For the needs of this paper, the tests that evaluate lower-body explosiveness, lower-body strength and VO2max were selected.
Bruce test is an sub-maximal protocol for the estimation of VO2max. Bruce et al reported Pearson product moment correlation coefficients (r) between predicted VO2max and measured VO2max of 0.94 for without cardiac conditions (n=292), 0.93 for women without cardiac conditions (n=509), and 0.87 for men with cardiac disease (n=153) (11).
A comparison was carried out by Foster et al between predicted VO2max, and measured VO2max for the general equation and the population-specific equations (12). The average predicted error was -0.6 mL*kg^-1 * min^-1 for the general equation versus -2.0 mL*kg^-1 * min^-1 for the population-specific equations. The correlation between measured VO2max and predicted VO2max for the general equation was high (r=0.96), with a multiple correlation coefficient (R) of 0.98 and a standard error of the estimate (SEE) of 3.5 mL*kg^-1 * min^-1 (12).
Squat test has been used widely in athleticism for evaluating lower-extremity strength, and moreover, in numerous athletes of wrestling (8). Strength is the main characteristic in wrestling so evaluating and improving the strength is the main goal for many wrestling training protocols.
Dong-il Seo after testing 15 males and 15 females on 1RM squat test, presented the following (13):
Moreover McCurdy et al. and Tagesson and Kvist reported the reliability of 1RM testing on squat, and knee extension that each 1RM test was reliable (14,15).
The counter-movement jump is a performance test, which evaluates the power of the lower extremities (16). The counter-movement jump is has been used extensively in studies with plyometric sessions and in evaluation of sports that utilize the stretch-shortening cycle (16,17).
The counter-movement jump, after reliability studying, has shown a high correlation coefficient with the explosive power factor (r = 0.87) (16). Along with squat jump it is the most reliable and valid field test for estimating the explosive power of the lower extremities.