After months at home away from sports, athletes can start to look forward to returning to doing what they love again! As states begin to reopen, sports practices and games are beginning to resume. Many athletes may find themselves excited to return to sports but are they physically ready to jump right back in? These are some considerations for athletes, parents and coaches as they return to sports after this break.
Co Authors: Team USA’s Laura Zeng and Evita Griskenas
With continued shelter in place orders across the country, many athletes are having to alter training and competition schedules including Team USA’s Rhythmic Gymnasts. Unable to attend practice as they normally would, their competition season has been interrupted along with the delay of the Tokyo Olympics. Laura Zeng and Evita Griskenas, two of Team USA’s top rhythmic gymnasts, give us insight into what they are doing at home to stay active and prevent injury as well as tips for other rhythmic gymnasts.
Gymnastics clubs across the country have been closed for several weeks in order to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in gymnasts focusing on stretching and conditioning at-home in preparation for when they can get back to the gym. This is a good time to address any flexibility and strength issues that may have affected an athlete’s ability to train earlier in the year and help with injury prevention when allowed to return to practice. Here are 6 key exercises to target common areas of weakness in gymnasts.
Tendinitis is a chronic, overuse type of injury that is common in gymnasts as they perform multiple repetitions of their routines – on the floor, beam and when sprinting toward the vault. Rhythmic gymnasts are also at risk due to performing up to four different routines on the floor with repetitive jumping, leaping and turning.
With many tumbling sports, such as gymnastics and cheerleading, one of the most obvious risks for injury is to the athlete doing the tumbling skill. However there is also a risk for the spotter.
The spotter is usually a coach or teammate who works to make sure tumbling skills are performed safely. For many coaches, the ratio of athletes to coach is such that they can be performing many repetitions of the same movement during a single practice. This can place added stress and increase the risk of injury to the spotter’s shoulder, wrist and low back.
Is your goal to learn the splits?
Beyond just improving flexibility, this skill can be useful for athletes in a variety of sports – from gymnasts and cheerleaders to hockey goalies. However, learning to safely perform this movement takes a lot of practice and consistency. See below for recommended stretches and some evidence-based tips for improving your flexibility and achieving this goal.
Gymnastics is a sport with large demands on the upper body. Male gymnasts especially rely on the strength and stabilization of the upper body for many of their events such as rings, pommel horse, vault, high bar, parallel bar and floor. Research has shown that a gymnast can experience up to 16 times their body weight through their arms during gymnastics events.1 Injuries are often seen at the shoulders in the male gymnast. In addition to overall shoulder strength, male gymnasts need shoulder stability to perform their sport.
Male gymnasts encounter different stresses on their joints compared to their female counterparts due to differences in the events they compete. In men’s gymnastics, there are multiple events that place stress across the joints of the arm including the rings, high bar, parallel bars and pommel horse.