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Protect Your Young Gymnast From Injuries

When one hears the words “sports injury” one immediately thinks of contact or speed sports, like rugby, football, ice hockey and lacrosse as the cause of this. Many parents are scared to allow their children to participate in these sports because of the fear of injuries, as they assume that these are the sports that have the highest injury rates out of all the sports activities available. However, when one looks at emergency room records, one of the most obvious causes of sports injury for girls is not a contact sport but an individual sport: gymnastics.

Gymnastics Safety

Pediatrics released an article about sports injuries on their April 2008 issue. They reported that 425,900 children ages 6 to 17 were treated in US emergency rooms from 1990-2005 for gymnastics related injuries, ranging from the varieties of head, neck, broken arms, broken legs, and sprain injuries. That’s a total of 26,600 injuries a year.

At this rate of injuries, one might assume that the cause of this is having young girls on the balance beam or uneven steel bars. Pediatrics’ study proved that wrong. They reported that most injuries are from floor activities like cartwheels, handstands, headsprings and flips. Although on the list, the amount of dismount accidents was very small.

According to this study, the young ages of the participants paired with long hours and intensified practices were one of the biggest concerns with gymnastics. The weight of these practices on young and developing girls is significant and one of the reasons for injuries and long-term problems that resulted of injuries.

(Read: Top 10 Health Benefits of Gymnastics)

Gymnastics Safety

How Injuries Could Be Avoided

  • Pediatrics’ study suggests that a parent should not enroll their children in gymnastics programs before the age of 12. Meaning, kids younger than 12 require programs with a more developmentally appropriate design.

  • Hire coaches that understand how kids’ bodies grow and work, and how they think so the kids could be coached not to try routines at home alone.

  • Gymnastics injuries mainly occur at home, so parents needs not allow their young athletes to practice in the backyard, friend’s house or anywhere not supervised by a properly trained gymnastics coach.

  • Limit the days of practice. Too much wear and tear on the growing musculoskeletal system could lead to overuse injuries.

  • Coaches must be certified, well-trained and at the top of their fields. They could belong to different gymnastics association and have appropriate coaching and instructor certifications.

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