Foot and ankle injuries can occur during various sports, but a shoe or cleat may protect the foot from more severe injuries. However, some sports are performed barefoot, such as gymnastics. Gymnasts have high demands on their feet and ankle, especially when landing their skills on vault, bars, floor, and beam. Gymnastics places high impact forces and high repetitions on growing young athletes. Gymnasts train all year and are therefore susceptible to overuse injuries.
Gymnastics is a unique sport where athletes spend a large amount of time on their hands. Handstands, tumbling, rings, and bars require the athlete to place their entire body weight through the arms and into the hands. Other sports do not place these heavy demands on the upper extremity. When tumbling, the athlete puts not only their entire body weight through the hands but can have up to 16 times their body weight in force going across the wrist2. No wonder 80% of gymnasts will experience wrist pain at some point in their career!6 In a study comparing injuries in male and female collegiate gymnasts, men suffered more hand and wrist injuries than their female counterparts1. We will be taking a closer look at the types of hand and wrist injuries both male and female gymnasts may experience and how to treat or prevent these injuries.
Warm-up and recovery are important parts of a workout routine that often get overlooked. A dynamic warm-up prepares the body prior to exercise; conversely, recovery or cooling down after exercise can help manage soreness. Active recovery is a great option to help manage normal muscle soreness symptoms after high-intensity workouts. It is normal to have muscle soreness after high- intensity exercise; this can last for several hours up to several days. Active recovery may help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
Many young kids that participate in sports can have complaints of pain in their heels. This is more common in children who are actively growing and those who are very active in running and jumping sports. Young gymnasts fall into this category, and they also practice and compete barefoot, which can lead to a higher risk of injury to the foot.
Male and female gymnasts compete in similar but different events. Men’s gymnastics events place different demands on the body, especially the upper body, for events such as rings, high bar, parallel bars, and pommel horse. Therefore, the top injuries for male and female gymnasts may be different. Current research has shown that adolescent male gymnasts tend to have more lower-body injuries, whereas elite male gymnasts have more upper-body injuries. In general, male gymnasts tend to have more upper body injuries than female gymnasts.
Gymnasts participate in their sport all year round and multiple days per week. A gymnast performs multiple repetitions of skills and their routines on equipment such as uneven or high bar, beam, floor, vault, pommel horse, or rings within each training session. Due to the nature of their training schedule, gymnasts may not have time for full recovery between events or between training sessions. We know the benefits of rest days, but what about the benefits of active recovery? Active recovery can include recovery between events during one practice as well as recovery between practices.
Many cheerleaders want to achieve higher and more powerful jumps. Jumps take practice and repetition. Jumping also involves the whole body, requiring strength in your legs, hips, core, back, and upper body. These four focus areas may help you achieve your high jumping goals!
Three Athletico clinicians recently had the experience of a lifetime traveling to the Tokyo Olympics earlier this summer. Read about each of their experiences below, the teams they supported, and the work they did to keep their Olympic athletes healthy for competition!