Cheerleading: Injury Prevention and Treatment
While the concept behind the sport of Cheerleading is typically happiness and inspiration, competitions at both high school and collegiate levels can be extremely dangerous for cheerleaders throughout the world. When combining the elements of dance and gymnastics, the stunts and formations that cheerleaders are required to perform can be surprisingly dangerous.The most common areas of injury for the sport include wrists, shoulders, ankles, head, and neck. Although most times the cheerleaders are suffering from a sprain or strain, much more severe injuries are also possible.
When preparing for a competition or practice, it is important to have a professional coach to help you take the proper precautions for performing stunts. Cheerleading must train and be comfortable with the stunt they are performing, and having a high confidence level is key. Whenever a cheerleaders is learning a stunt for the first time, the proper supervision should be present and guards or mats should be used. While various types of training are used for cheerleading conditioning, resistance exercises and stretching are the most basic ways you prepare yourself and prevent injury. Thoroughly working out your lower back, shoulders, and stomach can help you strengthen your core and improve your flexibility. Make sure you check with your sports medicine professional or athletic trainer to make sure you are physically able to participate in the sport.
Although there are restrictions which have been placed on stunts in cheerleading, injury is still frequent. The different types of restrictions include height restrictions in human pyramids, the ratio between throwers and flyers, and the number of spotters that must be present for each person lifted above shoulder level. It is crucial that when testing out a stunt in practice sessions for the first time, mats are used to prevent serious injury. Make sure that you are executing your stunts with the proper technique and form. When landing, it is important to prevent knee and ankle injuries by cushioning your land with a knee bend. Whether you are just picking up cheerleading or you have been on a squad your entire life, you must focus on the natural progression of developing your skills instead of jumping into a stunt that is too difficult. Know your limits, and concentrate in routines.
When a cheerleader lands the wrong way and injures a part of their body, a professional trainer must evaluate and determine a proper treatment regimen for the athlete. It is both the athlete and the coaches responsibility to acknowledge when an injury is present to ensure that it does not get worse. Overuse is very common in cheerleadingactivities, and if the athlete does not go through proper rehabilitation from the moment they experience pain, it can create long term loss of function. If pain and swelling occurs, contact your coach or athletic director immediately.
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