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.
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.
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.
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.
Heel pain is common in young children and it can be attributed to a condition called Sever’s disease.
Sever’s disease, which is also referred to as calcaneal apophysitis, is a result of inflammation of the growth plate of the heel. It is common in children who play sports that involve running or jumping, such as soccer, football, basketball and gymnastics. Gymnasts, however, are particularly affected due to the high level of jumping from a young age and because they are often barefoot when running and jumping.