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. If you are starting to get pain where you wear equipment and nothing else has changed, it may be because your equipment is getting old and worn. It may be time to replace. 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.
Gymnastics is very demanding, and gymnasts need to make sure they are getting a good fill of nutrients. Eating disorders are also a concern, so it is important for parents to be aware of their athlete’s eating habits and to make sure they are taking in enough calories for their activity level.
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. If this is not possible, make sure your athlete is “playing.” Make sure they are doing other unstructured activities, such as bike riding or playing active games with their friends. This will encourage them to use other muscles in a different manner from what they usually do, helping with any muscle imbalances and aiding in injury prevention.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise
From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, Plymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
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