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Have a Child Participating in Cheerleading? Learn More About Common Cheerleading Injuries
Cheerleading is a popular form of physical activity in the United States, with approximately 2.8 million elementary and high school students participating in the sport each year. While pom poms and fancy uniforms may define cheerleading for some, the activity actually involves a huge amount of skill and athletic conditioning.
Cheerleaders need to build up a lot of core strength, and they also need strong legs and arms. It takes a lot of stretching and conditioning to develop the stamina needed to be a cheerleader. Additionally, cheerleading involves grace, flexibility, and balance, as well as the ability to memorize often complicated routines. Cheerleaders often practice the characteristic jumping and tumbling of gymnastics. They need a lot of stamina and to be energetic and creative, imagining new ways to build excitement and team spirit.
Common injuries that cheerleaders can sustain are sometimes divided into two groups, traumatic injuries and overuse injuries. Common traumatic injuries include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, ankle sprains, and wrist fractures. Overuse injuries in cheerleading include tendinitis in the shoulder and wrist. Although head and neck injuries may be of increased concern due to possible long-term damage, they only account for about 7% of total cheerleading-related injuries.
Cheerleading groups often divide kids into flyers and bases. The flyers are the kids who are launched into the air to perform stunts, while the bases support and grab the flyers, propelling and lifting them as needed. Injuries resulting from trauma occur more often in fliers, while overuse injuries are more common in grassroots cheerleaders trying to support.
In order to prevent cheerleading injuries, strengthening is an important part of regular practice. Strengthening drills are especially important for your child if they’ve been participating in cheerleading for more than one season in a row, as it increases the risk of injury from overuse.
If your child has a cheerleading injury due to overuse, it is important that they receive prompt diagnosis as well as physical therapy. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon can quickly and effectively diagnose a sports injury due to overuse. Cross-training and aquatic therapy are sometimes recommended for quick healing. If your child suffers a traumatic injury from cheerleading, such as a torn ACL or broken wrist, they may need orthopedic surgery.
As always, preventing a sports injury in the first place is more desirable than suffering the consequences of a painful injury. Learn more about preventing common cheerleaders and related sports injuries like an ACL injury.
ACL injury prevention programs are often very effective and focus on things like strengthening the posterior chain, lower back muscle groups, and proper landing mechanics.
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