The MMA of Handball

Handball is one of the most dangerous sports there is. Not many will keep on for as much as a month without a sprain somewhere between the foot and the knee.
Nicola Karabatic playing handball in a wrestling match. Photo: IHF

Most handball players struggle for life with repercussions of multiple sprains of several points between foot and knee on both legs. Some will have trouble training anything with ground contact after (even a short) a handball career.

Lately, the steepest rising injury type in handball, most so in women’s handball, are sprains in neck, shoulder blades and back, mainly the upper half of the spine.

The sport has evolved massively during the past 20 years what tempo is concerned, both

  • ball tempo
  • sideways movement
  • rapid direction changes with and without the ball
  • shooting force
  • margins
  • body contact
  • holdings
  • throws (of opponents)
  • individual sabotage
  • provocations
  • pinching
  • take-downs
  • individual take-outs
  • tag-team-attacks on individual opponents

and downright sheer wickedness, especially in the women’s games.

handball-wrestling-lokesulland2013Worryingly, injury preventing training methods are relatively new. For a while boxing was the most popular alternative. Karate has taken over.

Handball players could really need the cross training dance routines of the Norwegian alpine skiing team of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s (Furuseth, Jagge, Skaardahl, Kjus, Aamodt e.o.), because of the treacherous need for simultaneous high and low friction in rapid directional changing sideways movements under severe attack from front and behind…

The most dangerous part of handball when it comes to injuries, as opposed to roller derby and mixed martial arts, is that the harmful violence is not the aim of the game. It is what opponents do to your body while you and the referees are minding the game.

Photo from Aspetar Sports Medicine.



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