Gymnastics can be a very demanding sport, especially for young athletes. Unfortunately injuries can be common, but we have some tips to keep your gymnast healthy and able to perform at the highest level possible.
Low Back Pain
This is one of the most common injuries in gymnastics because the sport involves a lot of backward bending. Flexibility is important, but being flexible in the right places is the key to staying injury free.
Most injuries appear when the athlete has limited flexibility at the shoulder and/or hips. When this happens the low back has to pick up the slack and you will see a “hinge point” in the low back. This “hinge point” is a sharp bend in one spot in the low back, instead of having a smooth curve along the entire spine.
- Key Points: Improve shoulder and hip flexibility
If you would like some more info specifically on low back pain in gymnastics, then click the link below to send me your e-mail and I will send it to you!
Gymnasts have to bear weight on their hands and wrist with movements like handstands. They also put a lot of stress on the wrists when on the bars. Limited wrist mobility or strength is a possibility and we definitely work on it with our clients. Another possibility is poor shoulder flexibility because it can put extra strain on the wrist joint and muscles
- Key Points: Improve flexibility and strength of the shoulder and wrist
Hard landings, especially with stiff legs, can put a lot of stress on the knee joints. When pain is focused in the front of the knee, it could be from poor knee position when landing or just doing too much high impact landing. This can be addressed by reducing the amount of repetitions in practice.
The hip controls the knee, so weakness in the overall hip muscles can be something that is causing inefficient landing technique. This would be the root cause of the problem: poor hip stability putting stress on the knees and producing knee pain.
As far as treatment goes, some gentle range of motion and strengthening exercises will be important early on to promote healing and pain reduction.
- Key Points: Improve landing technique and strength and stability of the hip and knee
Ankle sprains are common in a lot of sports. There are ligaments that support the ankle, but the outside ligaments are not as strong as the inside ones. That is why most people roll their ankle inward and hurt the outer part of the ankle. The ankle muscles have to react to the ground with every step or landing to help prevent the ankle from rolling.
There are two important factors for ankle injuries: the strength and stability of the ankle muscles and hip control. Like I said the muscles need to turn on at the right times to support the joint and react. Also, hip control is just as important for the ankle as it is for the knee. If the foot lands too far underneath the middle of the body, then the ankle could be more prone to rolling.
Early treatment for a sprained ankle is gentle range of motion and isometrics. Regaining full range of motion will be very important, especially early on. Eventually we will need to improve balance reactions in the ankle because it is one of the biggest things affected with ankle sprains
- Key Points: Improve mobility and strength of the ankle, as well as hip stability
The shoulder is meant to be very mobile which is good because gymnastics requires a lot of flexibility. The problem is that there is not a lot of structural (bony) stability at the shoulder, it requires the muscles for support. If the shoulder muscles aren’t strong enough, then the joint can become unstable and create pain or discomfort.
Treatment is mainly focused on strengthening the muscles and stabilizing the joint, so that they can have plenty of flexibility and keep the shoulder joint from becoming irritated or injured.
- Key Points: Improve shoulder stability and strength
- Strength training will help prevent injuries and even take gymnasts to the next level in their performance and skills.
- A strong core will help them protect their low back and generate power from the arms and legs.
- Flexibility in the right areas is key to preventing injuries to nearby joints.
- Take some time off practicing certain skills that produce pain to allow the area to heal.
- Physical therapists are experts in assessing what body regions need to be addressed to prevent injury and some even help with improving performance.
If you have a young gymnast that has been struggling with an injury or just wants to get better at their skills, then click the link below and we will determine if we are the right fit for you!