Gymnastics is a sport that requires both power and poise. Not only can the moves involved be extremely complex, but they often require the gymnast to use the majority of their body parts at once, and can place joints in particular under extreme strain. While injuries are common in any sport, they are exceedingly common in gymnastics, so in this blog, we’re going to look at some of the most common gymnastic injuries.
Sprains & Strains
By far one of the most common grievances for gymnasts is getting a sprain (stretching/tearing a ligament) or a strain (stretching/tearing a muscle), and these most frequently occur in the wrists or ankles, due to the many complex and demanding launches and landings involved in gymnastics. The best way to treat sprains and strains is using the R.I.C.E. technique (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), which you can read about in detail here.
There are two main ways a gymnast usually injures their back. One is straining the muscles in their back, which are instrumental in enabling a gymnast to perform flips, and can be easily injured if not warmed up properly.
The second way is spondylolysis, which is when one of the vertebrae is afflicted by a stress fracture. This is a form of overuse injury that occurs as a result of repeatedly landing a flip. The The shock caused by the landing puts enough stress on the vertebrae to eventually cause one to fracture, which can grow if the exercise continues. If caught early, braces and physical therapy can be enough to treat the condition, but more advanced cases may require external stimulation or even surgery to repair.
Most forms of tendinitis are an overuse injury, and these can be extremely common in gymnastics. Tendinitis, which is the swelling of a tendon that has been used too much, can affect any tendon in the body although some, such as those in the wrist and feet, are more frequently injured than others. Tendinitis usually occurs because the tendon in question is being used over and over without getting a proper break, which often happens when a person is trying to work on or perfect one move in particular. The R.I.C.E. technique can also be used to treat tendinitis, but since this will take you out of action for a few weeks, the best course of action is to avoid it altogether, which you can do by ensuring you have a varied workout.
Finger injuries may seem small, but they can be very painful, and can take a person weeks or months to recover from. Fingers can be easily sprained, broken, or dislocated during a landing or while an individual is twisting. Unfortunately, if this occurs, there is very little than can be done to speed up the healing process, and you will not be able to perform for some time, so your best option here is to pay attention to your instructor and avoid these injuries in the first place.
There are of course a number of other more serious injuries that we are at risk of sustaining when we take up gymnastics, such as concussions, dislocated shoulders, or neck fractures. But one of the most fundamental aspects of gymnastics, and one of the first things they will focus on, is teaching people how to fall safely. The theatricality of gymnastics can make it look like an extremely dangerous activity, and while that is not untrue, a properly trained gymnast will know the difference between failing the right way and failing the wrong way. So again, pay attention to your instructor, and avoid as many of these injuries as you can.