Gymnastics is a vigorous sport that showcases an athlete’s agility, balance, and coordination. But sometimes, it can sometimes take its toll on gymnasts. With all the stunts gymnasts perform, it’s no wonder that they are at high risk for both common (sprains, strains) and serious injuries (head, neck, back injuries).
The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury reports that gymnastics is the second leading cause of serious injuries among female athletes. Between 1990 and 2005, about 400,000 children, aged 6-17 years old, were treated for gymnastics-related injuries. In fact, gymnastics’ injury rates rival those of contact sports, such as football, basketball, and hockey. Yikes.
While there’s not a foolproof solution for completely avoiding injuries, you can always take measures to prevent them. Keep in mind these helpful tips:
- Never forget to do warm-ups and stretches. As with any other sport, it’s always advisable to warm-up and stretch first. This is because cold muscles are extra prone to injury. Simple warm-ups, such as jumping jacks or running in place, can be done for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Make sure you’re in good shape. Before you compete in any meet, check if you’re in good condition. Competing in bad shape is never a good idea. If you’re out of shape, you should gradually start building up your fitness level before competing again.
- Keep yourself hydrated. If you’re not drinking enough fluids, you can be at risk for dehydration. Dehydration can negatively affect your performance since your body will not be able to cool down through strenuous activity. Drink water or fluids 2 hours before an exercise
- Make sure your equipment is safe to use. Inspect if a gym’s equipment is properly maintained. Mats and floor paddings should be strategically placed to lessen the force of falls.
- Think before you do a high-risk stunt. You might be feeling a little adventurous, but never attempt to do a dangerous stunt without supervision. Consult with your coach first. Discuss an emergency plan with your coach. Injuries are unpredictable. Your coach should know how to administer first-aid treatment for minor injuries and, in the case of serious injuries, reach medical providers.