The sport of cheerleading has evolved through the years and has become not only competitive, but also pretty dangerous. Today’s cheerleading combines the enthusiasm of cheers with the athletic prowess of gymnastics –– without any mats. Studies show that the development of the sport has had a direct impact on the amount of cheerleading injuries. The percentage of injuries has DOUBLED between 1990 and 2002. And a study done in 2005 showed that more than 50% of traumatic injuries among all women’s sports happen in the sport of cheerleading.
The tumbling, throwing, jumping and balancing often happen in quick and repetitive combinations. Some of the most common injuries from cheerleading are:
- Stress fractures, specifically in the spine
- Injuries to growth plates from repeated stress
- Ligament tears in the knee (ACL)
- Ankle injuries such as sprains and ligament tears
Here are some ways that you can help reduce your risk of injury:
- Before a practice, game or cheerleading competition, spend a lot of time stretching. Make sure to focus a lot of time on stretching your back muscles along with the rest of your stretching routine. Allow enough time for each stretch to be effective, holding stretches for 20-30 seconds is ideal.
- Since there is a lot of jumping involved in the sport, when you land from jumps or tosses, work on keeping your landing position in good form. Your knees should not go far past your toes and try not to let them fall inwards while landing.
- Work on strengthening your core muscles. Your core muscles obviously start with your abdomen, but also include your hips and back. Strengthening your core can do wonders for injury prevention.
- When doing repetitions, make sure to incorporate breaks between routines. The stress from constant repetitions is a cause of stress injuries.
In today’s world of cheerleading, the risk of injury is always going to be present. That is why it is imperative that cheerleaders learn the right form and technique to help them prevent injury. If you start to see any sign of injury or abnormal pain, make sure you seek attention from your local healthcare provider.