As cheerleaders begin to return to practice, there are some important safety tips to remember. Cheerleading is a potentially high risk sport and it involves extensive and consistent training.
Participation in cheerleading ranges from young kids through collegiate athletes. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) estimates approximately 400,000 students participate in U.S. high school cheerleading annually, including competitive squads.1 Cheerleaders can be found at the elementary, junior high, high school, and collegiate levels as well as at park districts or private competitive gyms. Cheerleading squads can be all-girl or co-ed.
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.
Gymnasts and cheerleaders are two types of athletes whose sports require tumbling. Tumbling can range from cartwheels to more complex flips and twists. Regardless of the difficulty of the tumbling, strong ankles for pushing off and landing are important. Weakness in ankles can result in injury such as an ankle sprain, ankle fracture, or tendinitis in muscles surrounding the ankle.
Cheerleading is a common sport in high schools and universities but it is also popular as a competitive all-star sport. These all-star teams are often a variety of ages, they can be co-ed, and the teams practice multiple days per week for competitions. Due to the nature of the sport, cheerleaders are more susceptible to certain injuries, including low back pain.