Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

shutterstock 61626283 Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

When you think of sports injuries, full contact sports like football probably come to mind. However, one of the most dangerous sports in terms of serious injury is not football, soccer, or basketball…it’s cheerleading.

Cheerleading has become so much more than shouting encouraging phrases from the sidelines. Modern day cheerleading features amazing feats of gymnastics and flexibility along with dance and of course, stunts. A basket toss can send a cheerleader flying 20 feet in the air, only to land in the arms of her teammates, if everything goes right. It’s not hard to see how cheerleading can be dangerous.

Even with human pyramids, choreographed gymnastic passes and more, some might not even consider cheerleading a true sport; in fact the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not even include it in their list of sponsored sports. But it doesn’t change the fact that from 1980 to 2013, cheerleading injury rates went up 440%. While compared to other sports, the overall number of injuries is actually low. However, cheerleading injuries are often much more severe, making up 50-66% of catastrophic injuries in female athletes. A catastrophic injury is defined as a severe injury to the spine (including the spinal cord) or brain and may also include skull or spinal fractures.

Most Common Injuries

Cheerleading injuries affect all areas of the body. The wrists, shoulders, ankles, head, and neck are most commonly injured.  Sprains account for more than half of all cheerleading injuries. While ankle sprains are most common, sprains can also occur in the knees, wrists, neck and back.

Back injuries are also common in cheerleading, largely from tumbling and stunts. Back injuries can be caused by twisting and rotating in stunts or tumbling passes and from lifting, catching, or falling during stunts.

Concussions are also becoming increasingly more common in cheerleading. With more evidence of the damage head injuries like concussions can cause, there has now been a heightened awareness of cheerleading related injuries overall.

Prevention

Some of the causes for cheerleading injuries are lack of training (especially with stunts) lack of conditioning and that there is no protective gear for the sport. The best way to avoid injury is to prevent them from happening.

Stunt restrictions

It’s no surprise that stunting causes the most serious injuries in cheerleading. Stunting accounts for 42-60% of all cheerleading injuries. In addition, 96 percent of concussions and head injuries in cheerleading are caused by stunts. Without the proper training on how to toss and catch the flyer, along with practice, these injuries will continue to occur.

Other stunting restrictions include height restrictions in human pyramids to keep them level and increasing the number of spotters during aerial stunts. Mats should always be used during practice, as cheerleading is one of the only sports where more injuries occur during practice than in competition.

Trained coaches

The lack of recognition of cheerleading as a sport has lead to a lack of qualified coaches. Often, coaching is done by a member of the school’s faculty who may not have any experience with cheerleading, or at least not some of the more physically demanding aspects of it. At a minimum, a cheerleading coach should know proper stunt technique, should always supervise practice and should be able to identify the symptoms of serious injury like concussion.

Conditioning

Like any other sport, proper training and conditioning can help prevent injury. First and foremost, stretching before practice and competition can loosen the muscles and help prevent strains, sprains and pulls. Yoga or Pilates can also help cheerleaders improve flexibility.

Strength training can also help prepare muscles for lifting either your body weight or a teammate during stunts. Special attention should be paid to strengthening the back and shoulders are well as the core muscles to help reduce the risk of injury.

Sources:

Prevent ACL Injuries

Did you know women are between 2 and 10 times more likely to injure their ACL?  Wearing a DonJoy knee brace like the Playmaker II with a FourcePoint hinge reduces your chance of on an ACL injury. This knee brace has been proven to decrease your chance of injuring your ACL from a non-contact injury by 60%! And wearing this brace helps train you to utilize the right degree of flexion (how much you bend your knee) so you’re less likely to injure your ACL even if you’re not wearing this brace.

Learn more about the DonJoy Playmaker II with FourcePoint Hinge

How to Keep Your Soccer Career Alive and Kicking

Soccer How to Keep Your Soccer Career Alive and Kicking

Soccer (or football) is arguably the most popular sport in the world. With the largest worldwide soccer tournament less than a week away, we’re taking a look at the most common soccer-related injuries and how to prevent them.

Hands-down the most common injury from soccer is a sprained ankle. Between running with the ball, maneuvering around opposing players or even being kicked by them, this is not a surprise. And while a sprained ankle might sideline you, it’s important to give it enough time to heal before getting back on the field.

Knee injuries are also common in soccer and often more severe.  One of the most dreaded knee injuries soccer players can experience is a tear in their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) near the knee.  According to FIFA, seventy per cent of all ACL injuries happen without contact with another player. An injury like a torn ACL could require surgery to repair.

Moving up from the knee, hamstring (the muscle group in the back of your thigh) injuries are fairly typical, especially for players in positions that require sprinting or sudden acceleration like forward and midfield. Injuries can range for a more mild pull to a more serious tear.

So how do you prevent injuries on the soccer field? Proper warm ups are crucial. Making sure your muscles are stretched out and limber is key to preventing pulls and tears. FIFA has created a soccer warm  up program designed specifically to help reduce the risk of injury on the field.

Staying active in the off-season and gradually working up to peak performance is another way to avoid injury. Injuries are much more likely for players who have not trained or played for a period of time. If you’ve been out of the game for a while, ease back into it. Work on your conditioning and strength training as you gradually get back into full contact soccer. On that same note, do not overtrain. Many injuries come from overuse, particularly in young players. If you are starting to feel worn down, listen to your body and take some time off. Taking one season off could help you extend your soccer career by many more seasons.

Sources:

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/footballdevelopment/medical/playershealth/injuries/commoninjuries/index.html

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/soccer-injury-prevention.aspx

 

 

 

3 Tips to Prevent Volleyball Injuries

Holly B. is an active professional in her late twenties who spends her free time playing recreational flag football and league basketball. She shares her experience with us as she explores the world of sports.

I have several friends who actively play recreational volleyball. One friend in particular, Clarence, is fairly tall – great for volleyball, not so great for his joints. He has to be careful to not to overdo things when playing.

The lateral movement and repetitive jumping during volleyball sets up the perfect scenario for injuries to occur… especially with taller athletes whose body frames may put more strain on their joints.

Here are three tips to help prevent volleyball injuries:

1. Warmup before games – Make sure that you stretch and take a light jog before games. This gets your muscles and joints ready for action. Some trainers recommend a light stretch, then a light jog, then more stretching.

2. Ensure that you have the proper gear – Check the wear and tear of your shoes and socks. Wear knee pads and elbow pads to protect yourself when diving. (Check out our selection of knee pads and elbow pads for volleyball.)

3. Wear volleyball braces and supports – If you have previous ankle or knee injuries, it’s smart to wear a volleyball brace or support to help protect your joints from re-injury. They may also help prevent injuries from occurring the first time. While volleyball supports won’t guarantee that you won’t get hurt, they do help lower your risk.

Recreational volleyball is enjoyable – I’ve had the pleasure of watching Clarence participate in some intense games. But be sure to stay safe while playing!

Common Martial Arts Injuries

Martial arts are practiced all over the world.  It’s also a popular sport for children because it teaches discipline and respect.  Despite its popularity, not much attention is brought to the fact that martial arts injuries are quite common.

Martial arts is a sport that involves the entire body, so every part of the body is at risk – from the head and neck down to the foot and ankle.  Most martial arts injuries occur from overuse because of the repetitive movements and use of the joints.  However, more serious injury can occur especially in competitive martial arts training (as opposed to recreational.)

Here are some common martial arts injuries:

HEAD & NECK

  • concussions
  • bruising and abrasions

 
ARMS

  • shoulder pain
  • rotator cuff tear
  • elbow tendonitis
  • tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
  • elbow hyperextension
  • wrist sprain
  • thumb sprains
  • bruising

 
ABDOMEN

  • bruised ribs
  • pulled groin

 
LEGS/KNEES

  • pulled hamstring
  • iliotibial band syndrome
  • patellofemoral pain (also known as runner’s knee)
  • knee tendonitis
  • knee hyperextension

 
ANKLES

  • ankle sprains
  • ankle fractures

 

As you can see, the list of injuries that may occur when practicing martial arts is very extensive… and what’s listed here are just the most common ones!  Check out our braces and supports and speak with your instructor and doctor about additional ways to treat and prevent martial arts injuries.