As any all-star cheerleader can tell you, cheer is a dangerous sport! From being tossed more than 10 feet in the air to performing acrobatic jumps and flips, these activities can take a serious toll on the body — especially when athletes aren’t careful. Today, we have compiled a list of the top most common cheerleading injuries, as well as what you can to do prevent them.
Safety and Prevention
When it comes down to it, keeping athletes free of injuries demands the right equipment, coaching, athletic level, and preventative measures. All athletes should practice on a soft mat, preferably one that is similar to their competition mat. All-star cheerleaders also need to maintain a solid fitness level, even in the off-season, to prevent strain injuries. Pushing themselves too hard can often result in crutches, concussions, and twists. Coaches should also be spotting every new skill and progressing skill. No matter how many precautions you take, however, you will not be able to prevent all injury from happening. Make sure there is an emergency plan in place, just in case!
With all the jumping and flips cheerleaders do, it’s common for them to land the wrong way and twist their ankle just enough to sprain it. Make sure your athlete uses the RICE method to heal — rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
All it takes is one odd landing from a jump to cause a ligament tear or hyperextension injury. Athletes should go to the doctor as soon as possible, especially if they felt a pop or claim that their knee feels “loose.” In minor cases, athletes will need a brace or some physical therapy. More extreme knee injuries can require surgery.
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in the spine that is often caused by excessive jumping, tumbling, and back bending activities. The main symptom is usually experiencing pain in the lower back during back walkovers, front walkovers, or back handsprings. If your athlete experiences low back pain for more than two weeks, seek a doctor immediately. Usually, treatment only requires physical therapy and refraining from bending back for several weeks or months. A brace is often not necessary.
Cheerleaders’ heads do sometimes hit the floor during a stunt fall. As a result, many cheerleaders end up concussed. The signs and symptoms range from subtle to obvious and can take several hours or days to appear. All concussions are serious, and the injured athlete must be monitored before being allowed to return to practice.
Proper Preparation and Protocols
Many injuries can be avoided as long as the athletes are properly supervised and spotted when attempting a skill. The rules set in place by USASF have been created in order to keep athletes safe and move them forward in a healthy, progressive way. At all WSA competitions, we keep trainers and emergency staff on hand to handle any emergency that may arise. Reach out to our team today to sign up for the next cheerleading nationals! We look forward to seeing your team and gym compete. Stay safe out there!