WHY INJURIES OCCUR IN GYMNASTICS?
Gymnasts must consistently prepare for the rigorous physical and emotional toils that the sport requires. With the complexity of routines, the risk of potential injury increases. Injuries most commonly occur in the ankles, feet, lower back, knees, wrists, and hands, often from overuse or simply from stress. Injuries are rarely severe, but if left untreated they can lead to chronic pain and bone fractures. Each year, more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries are treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON INJURIES IN GYMNASTICS?
Below is a list of the most common gymnastics injuries.
Often the upper body is used as a weight-bearing joint in gymnastics, injuries to the shoulder, elbow, and wrist are common and may include: Superior Labrum Anterior-Posterior (SLAP) Lesions in the Shoulder, Elbow Dislocation and Wrist Sprains. The most common gymnastics injuries to the lower body involve the knee and ankle. Lower extremity injuries usually result from improper landing and dismount activities- and the injuries include: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury, Achilles Tendon Injury, and Lower Back Injuries.
WHEN DO THESE INJURIES OCCUR?
- Labral tears (sometimes called SLAP tears)
These may occur during any gymnastic exercise, but the ring and bar specialists seem particularly vulnerable. It is identified by pain that relatively quickly disappears, but has a tendency to reappear with the return to sport. An MRI can be instrumental in confirming the diagnosis.
- Wrist Injuries
The wrist is subjected to forces that can exceed twice the body weight. The primary step in approaching wrist pain is to decrease the training volume of the athlete, ease symptoms, and to partake in only pain-free activities. After an injury, gymnasts should avoid unrestricted stress on the wrist joint for up to six weeks. If the gymnast is enduring pain with non-gymnastic activities of daily life, using a brace or cast to immobilize the wrist provisionally may be necessary.
ACL can occur when a gymnast lands “short” or is over-rotated during falls, descends, or vaults. A “pop” can be heard or felt succeeded by knee swelling within hours. MRI is regularly used to verify ACL injury. As with other sports, ACL reconstruction is suggested for gymnasts who wish to revert to full sports participation.
- Achilles Tendons
Gymnasts can experience a variety of injuries to the Achilles tendon found just above the back of the heel, as a consequence of the repeated stress of jumping and landing. Achilles tendinitis results in calf soreness that is exacerbated with jumping and landing. Treatment should initially consist of ultrasound, stretching, activity adjustment, and calf exercises. Foot immobilization for a week (up to ten days) may be advantageous for acute symptoms.
- Foot & Ankle
Injuries to the foot and ankle are normal in gymnastics. Severe injuries are ordinarily sprains, which can be minor or more aggressive. Swelling, bruising and tenderness directly over the bones are indications of a more serious injury. Minor injuries typically have tenderness limited to one side of the joint without significant swelling. Serious injuries require evaluation by a qualified professional while going back to participation after a minor injury is often conceivable within a week if there is no pain (or limping) with weight-bearing activity. Protection with taping or a brace can help recovery and diminish the danger for re-injury. Persistent ankle pain or repeated injuries are worrisome and need evaluation before proceeding with participation.
- Muscle Strain
The cause of lower-back pain can involve muscle strain, ligament sprain, fracture, and/or disc dysfunctions. Usually, lower-back pain will worsen with activity, mainly with extension movements, such as arching the shoulders backward. Lower-back pain in gymnasts, which is linked to muscular strain or ligament sprain usually responds to rest and physical therapy exercises. Chronic back pain is uncommon and should not be neglected. An MRI or a bone scan are often helpful in rulling out more important injuries.
Gymnastics Injury Prevention Tips
In order to avoid getting injured when performing or training, implement these injury prevention suggestions:
- Insist on spotters when learning a new skills
- Warm up muscles with moderate aerobic exercise, such as jumping jacks or running in place, before starting training or new activities
- Examine equipment to ensure that it is in a good state, including padded floors, secured mats under every device, and safety harnesses for mastering difficult moves
- Use all essential safety gear whenever competing or training — proper equipment may include wrist guards, hand grips, specific footwear, ankle or elbow braces, and pads
- Do not “play through the pain” — if you are injured, see your physician and follow guidelines for treatment and full recovery
- Make sure first aid is accessible at all competitions and practices
Need more information on gymnastics injuries or sports medicine in Boca Raton in general? Ask Orthopaedic Surgery Associates in Palm Beach County
Whether it’s post-injury help or consultation about your first symptoms, our orthopedic doctors specialized in sports medicine in Boca Raton or Boyton Beach provide total management of patient care in Palm Beach County. If you’d like to find out more about us, our doctors, and our facilities, or you want to make an appointment, contact us. We will help you stay healthy and happy!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.