Tips on Preventing Gymnastics Injuries
Summit physical therapist Teresa Werth, PT, DPT, OCS, shares some tips to help gymnasts prevent injuries, so they can keep flying high.
Many people love gymnastics. From flips and twists to vaults and high-flying release moves, gymnasts seem to defy gravity, giving the sport a magic all its own. But gymnastics, and the hours upon hours of practice it takes to complete those routines, can result in injuries. Read on to learn more about the most common injury types and tips to prevent gymnastics injuries.
Preventing spine gymnastics injuries
A gymnast’s spine takes a lot of punishment. “The back is a big problem area, because of all the extension and back bending that gymnasts do,” said Teresa Werth, PT, DPT, OCS, a physical therapist at Summit who was a competitive gymnast and dancer herself. She works with gymnasts in the Twin Cities as a physical therapist.
Our lower backs are designed to be very flexible, but putting too much pressure on the lower back can result in injuries now, as well as problems later in life. The best way to prevent spine injuries is to make sure your back is evenly distributing the work.
“Instead of bending only at our low back, we need to make sure we’re extending all the way through the spine, from our neck down to our low back,” Werth said.
Doing exercises to promote mobility and strength in the upper back will help ensure that the lower back isn’t doing all the work.
Preventing wrist gymnastics injuries
Gymnasts can have a lot of pain in their wrists. The back of the wrist (not the palm side) takes a lot of weight bearing and pounding. As a first step, Werth recommends protective gear for the wrists to give added strength and support, but exercises can help, too.
“Gymnasts are generally super strong on the palm side of their forearms. The back side of the forearm, by contrast, is a lot weaker,” Werth said. “Gymnasts should work on strengthening the back side of their forearms to balance out the strength and prevent injury.
When to get help
Generally, and particularly for higher level gymnasts, “They are putting their bodies through a lot. As a result, we see overuse injuries,” Werth said.
Small aches and pains are normal. However, if the pain lasts three to four days without improvement, Werth said, tell your coach. Your coach and trainer can work with you to make adjustments to practice, giving the soreness time to heal. They can also advise you to get medical help for gymnastics injuries if appropriate.
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 can help. We 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, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
More resources for you:
Fitness habits start us on the road to a healthy active lifestyle. How early should parents start encouraging children in sports? Dr. Skendzel shares his thoughts about how parents can cultivate good health through activity.
The female athlete triad refers to a medical condition that can cause long-term health damage or death. We explain the condition and tell you how to recognize it.