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.
Knee pain in young gymnasts is a common complaint. Many times these young athletes begin having pain due to overuse of the area. A common overuse injury is Osgood-Schlatter’s disease (OSD). OSD is inflammation of the patellar ligament below the kneecap. Often, there is a painful bump below the kneecap (the tibial tuberosity) where the ligament attaches.
The ongoing pandemic has changed many of our everyday lives – including those of athletes, many of which had to completely stop, pause or alter the way they participated in their sport. For gymnasts, their training had significantly changed since the end of the last high school or club gymnastics season. To help gymnasts return to their sport safely, here as six tips to keep in mind during the modified season.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is more commonly known as “Shin Splints.” This syndrome describes pain on the front and side of the shin bone in the lower leg. Shin splints are common in running and jumping athletes including gymnasts who run and tumble frequently.
Tumbling athletes, including gymnasts and cheerleaders, place unique demands on their upper body. When tumbling, the athlete places not only their entire body weight through the hands but can have up to 16 times their body weight in force going across the wrist.1 Due to these extreme conditions, pain in the wrist can occur.
Gymnastics is considered a high risk sport for head and neck injuries. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur from a direct or indirect force on the head. In gymnastics this can be the result of falling on the head, collision with equipment, collision with another athlete, or a fall where the head does not directly take the blow but a whiplash type movement occurs. In each of these scenarios, the brain moves rapidly inside the skull.
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.