With “American Ninja Warrior” becoming popular on televisions in the United States, Ninja Warrior training and competitions have increased throughout the country and have become more physically demanding and challenging.
Ninja Warrior training involves a significant amount of upper body strength combined with lower body balance. To excel as a Ninja Warrior, athletes need to repeatedly perform strengthening exercises and repetitive training motions. This repetition can put stress on many different parts of the body and lead to injury. There is little to no research on Ninja Warrior injuries but from observation, most injuries seem to affect the upper body, particularly the shoulders.
How do Ninja Warrior injuries happen?
Many Ninja Warrior injuries are overuse injuries: injuries to a bone, muscle, tendon, or ligament caused by continuous and repetitive stress on the same parts of the body. Stress fractures, tendinitis, and growth plate injuries are common overuse injuries. Without rest and seeing a medical provider for your diagnosis, minor overuse injuries can turn into serious injuries with long periods of recovery and significant time out of Ninja Warrior.
Missed laches and falls off obstacles can cause acute injuries such as sprains, fractures, and concussions. Although rare, some accidents and falls result in serious head, neck, and spinal cord injuries.
What are the most common injuries?
Upper body injuries
- shoulder dislocations
- elbow dislocations
- wrist sprains
- forearm fractures (radius and ulna fractures)
- shoulder labrum tears
Lower body injuries
- Sever’s disease
- ankle sprains
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury
- meniscus injury
- avulsion fracture
- knee pain caused by patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee), Sinding Larsen Johansson, and Osgood-Schlatter disease
Head, neck, and back injuries
- back pain
Parents and coaches can reduce their ninja’s risk of injury by encouraging safe training practices, which include:
- Warming up before every practice and competition. Warmups may include easy aerobic exercise such as a light jog, stretching, different hangs and holds, and light conditioning.
- Not attempting complicated Ninja skills until the athlete is strong, fit, and skilled enough to practice them safely. The harder the move, the more strength and training needed. Listen to your coach on safety and development of skills before attempting a new skill or obstacle.
- Taking time off every week to give their body a chance to rest and recover. While regular practice is important, constant, repetitive training increases the risk of injury.
- Speaking up if something hurts. Being a hero and muscling through pain puts athletes at risk of serious injury. Any pain that lasts for days or gets worse over time needs to be checked out by a health care provider, preferably one with experience in sports injuries.
- Getting enough sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends between nine and 12 hours of sleep for kids between 6 and 12, and eight to 10 hours of sleep for kids between 13 and 18. Athletes who aren’t rested are more accident prone and more likely to get injured.
- Drinking plenty of water and eating well balanced meals. Staying hydrated and eating hearty, well-balanced meals is important for Ninja Warriors. Without proper water intake and food intake ninjas will be under fueled and increase their risk of injury.
- Having fun. Ninja Warrior is meant to be fun. Make sure your ninja is enjoying their time at practices and competitions.
Safety equipment and tips
The following precautions will further reduce ninjas’ risk of injury:
- You should inspect all equipment to make sure it is sturdy, secure, and in good condition. Obstacles should be placed far apart so athletes do not collide with each other or the obstacle.
- Make sure a well-stocked first aid kit is available at all competitions and practices.
- Identify the medical staff at competitions in case of an emergency.
- You need to listen to your coaches and use extra spotting blocks and mats, especially when learning a new skill.
- Make sure you have proper fitting and functional Ninja Warrior sneakers. Check with your coach on proper fit and function.
How we care for Ninja Warrior injuries at Boston Children’s Hospital
As the largest and most experienced pediatric and young adult sports medicine practice in the country, the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children's combines personalized care with innovative treatment for each athlete we treat. We also have the country’s first and only Ninja Warrior Medicine Clinic (a sport specific clinic for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Ninja Warrior injuries).
Our Sports Medicine team consists of sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, podiatrists, athletic trainers, sports psychologists, dietitians, and many others who collaborate in every aspect of our patients’ care and their recovery.
The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, part of the Sports Medicine Division, is dedicated to the prevention of sports injuries. Through research and clinical training, we offer practical strategies that help young athletes reduce their risk of injury while enhancing their sports performance. Our rehabilitation and strength training programs help injured athletes return to play stronger and healthier.
Whether injury prevention or recovery is your goal, we have the skills and dedication to help your child remain active in the sports they love.