The experts at Summit Orthopedics provide a gymnastics tips QUICKGuide to help prevent injuries and stay safe during the sport.
Check for proper maintenance and fit of equipment
Wear and tear happens to all equipment, whether it is the larger pieces of apparatus, i.e. bars, rings, balance beam, or the personal protective equipment, such as wrist guards and hand grips. For personal protective equipment, replace when padding begins to be worn, thins, or no longer fits well. As a parent, it’s your right to inspect the equipment and ask questions if something doesn’t look correctly maintained.
Supervision is non-negotiable
A coach should always be present during practice and spotting when new, complex skills are being performed. A safety harness is also recommended for very complex skills that are new to the gymnast.
Know the signs of a concussion
Parents, coaches and athletes should all be familiar with the signs of a concussion and should be vigilant about communication and appropriate management by a medical professional. Remember you don’t have to lose consciousness to have a concussion.
Counter the culture of ignoring pain
It’s common for athletes to feel pressure, whether internally driven or from a team standpoint, to continue with gymnastics even though they have pain. This can be risky for the athlete, as overuse injuries can compound the longer they are ignored. Encourage your child to report any pain or weakness they are feeling. It’s okay if they feel discomfort after a hard practice session, but anything that persists longer than a week or causes you to limp needs to be checked out by a medical professional.
Curb year-round, one-sport participation
There are significant overuse injury risks to athletes who play one sport all year round as compared to others who play different sports during different seasons. Have your child take 2-4 months off from gymnastics in each calendar year. This can be filled with a different sport, or just be an off-season for rest.
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