Three Important Tips for Gymnastics Injury Prevention

Steven B. Cohen, MD October 5th, 2018

Learn About Gymnastics Injuries from the Experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute

To perform gymnastics, athletes require balance, poise, strength, and endurance. As one of the most physically challenging sports, gymnastics demands intensive training. This training offers considerable orthopaedic health benefits, including increased flexibility and stronger bones, muscles, and connective tissues.

The high-impact nature of gymnastics, however, makes gymnasts highly prone to orthopaedic injuries. For this reason, it’s essential that gymnasts, coaches, and parents educate themselves regarding effective gymnastics injury prevention methods.

No amount of athletic dedication can remove the danger of sprains, strains, ligament tears, and bone injuries; in fact, many of the injuries that gymnasts commonly suffer are caused by overuse. Likewise, no amount of personal endurance can eliminate the danger of orthopaedic injury. Rather, athletes must be proactive in implementing gymnastics injury prevention practices into their training regime and routines.

Learn about the orthopaedic injuries gymnasts most commonly experience and expert tips for preventing injury from the specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Glen Mills below.

Common Orthopaedic Injuries Gymnasts Experience

According to gymnastics injury statistics, female gymnasts experience 9.37 injuries per 1,000 athletic exposures (an athletic exposure is the participation of one athlete in one practice or competition); male gymnasts experience 8.78 injuries per 1,000 exposures. These gymnastics sports injury rates are comparable to full-contact sports, demonstrating the serious degree of risk for injury within gymnastics.

Injuries suffered due to gymnastic activity vary greatly in nature and specific cause. Many are caused by stress and gradual overuse, while others are instantaneous and traumatic. Listed below are some of the injuries most frequently experienced by gymnasts:

  • Sprains of the wrist

  • Distal radius fractures

  • Dislocations of the elbow

  • Labral tears

  • Anterior cruciate ligament tears and sprains

  • Achilles tendon injuries

  • Foot and ankle sprains and fractures

  • Lower back sprains, strains, and pinched nerves

  • Herniated spinal discs

Implementing measures to prevent gymnastics injuries and adjusting training to encourage gymnastics injury prevention conditioning can effectively prevent many of these injuries. If injury does occur, prompt medical attention is critical.

Key Tips for Gymnastics Injury Prevention

What steps can athletes, coaches, and parents take to prevent gymnastics injuries and encourage healthy, sustainable training and technique? The orthopaedic experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute recommend beginning your injury prevention efforts with the following three steps:

  1. Take time to properly prepare for practice and routines
    To avoid injuries, it is important for gymnasts to prepare adequately before strenuous practice and routines. That includes both warm-ups immediately before gymnastics activity and long-term preparatory measures. In the long-term, fitness maintenance is essential for the conditioning of muscles and ligaments, especially during the off-season.

    Cold, stiff muscles and ligaments are more prone to orthopaedic injury. Immediately prior to gymnastics routines, warming up, and stretching can help to loosen muscles. Stretching following routines can likewise help to increase flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.

  2. Pay attention to your body and respond to pain appropriately
    Athletes are highly reluctant to interrupt their seasons or training regime, which leads many of them to ignore the emergence of painful symptoms. However, pain can indicate the onset of an orthopaedic injury and should always be met with a reduction or cessation of high-impact activity. The majority of pain will fade with rest, activity modification, and, if needed, physical therapy.

  3. Avoid overuse by diversifying your routines
    Many injuries occur as a consequence of the overuse of a particular part of the body. To reduce stress that affects a particular musculoskeletal region, it is important to vary your routines, exercises, and training. Likewise, interspersing your gymnastics activity with low-impact cross training activities, such as swimming or cycling, can allow your muscles and connective tissues to rest from the stress of gymnastics training while maintaining your fitness.

Practicing these gymnastics injury prevention measures during training and competition can help gymnasts preserve their orthopaedic health and athletic careers. If injuries occur, however, gymnasts can receive the most effective, specialized treatment from the Sports Medicine physicians at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Glen Mills. To learn more, visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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