Introduction to Gymnastics Injuries
If there’s one thought that makes gymnasts cringe, its injuries. Injuries are a part of sports that are both inevitable and unavoidable. Some may be minor, like scrapes and bruises that you and your child can deal with easily. Others can necessitate going to the doctor. Let’s say the gymnast has just finished practice, and is holding on to his/her thigh and wincing. You ask if it hurts, and he says yes, a whole lot!
What should a parent or gymnast do?
Well, the first thing you could have done was prevent that injury from happening in the first place. But that’s another topic to discuss later.
As a gymnast, you have to be aware that gymnastics is one of the most demanding and strenuous sports around. Right along with its tough and exacting nature come the injuries. Do you know that gymnasts incur injuries as often as football players do?
While injuries are part and parcel of gymnastics and it will be difficult to steer clear of them completely, there are some ways that you can avert the worse of them. These safety measures take the form of body and mental alertness, adequate muscle strength and resiliency, and above all, clear communication with between the gymnast, coach and child.
Most important of all, it is important that the gymnast knows what he is doing. The gymnast shouldn’t attempt to try moves that he hasn’t practiced yet, just because they look awesome, or because some of the other gymnasts can do it, or even just to impress his coach. Speak to the coach about your apprehensions and make sure he shares your concern. Make sure the coach is cognizant of the risks to the athletes and has implemented safety procedures to minimize them. Find out if he knows what to do in case an emergency happens and check to see if there is a first-aid kit in the gym. It’s also important that there’s a phone to call for medical help.
The coach is responsible for teaching the gymnast the basics of a certain skill, and to understand how to execute it properly. The gymnast should also be taught how to move his body safely to prevent injury in case a trick doesn’t turn out the way it should. See if this is explained and demonstrated to him during practice.
One other thing a gymnast should know is how to be attuned to his body throughout all its motion during the execution of a move. If for instance, he’s in the middle of a twist, she should be able to sense if he’s twisted far enough or too much. If he’s performing a somersault, he should know how far he’s rotated so he’ll be able to land correctly. Being aware of her body orientation at all times is crucial to keeping her safe from potential injuries.
Most times, injuries occur because some of the muscles involved in the execution of a trick are not strong enough to withstand the stress placed on the joints during movement. This often happens to children whose bones are still in the process of growing. The most common of these injuries are sprained or twisted ankles, which occur when the small but vital muscles that run down from the calf to the foot are not tough enough to cushion the joint underneath. To prevent sprained and twisted ankles, the muscles surrounding them should be trained and conditioned regularly. Make sure the coach implements sufficient conditioning exercises that include the ankles.
Finally, it is important to keep the lines of communication and awareness open between the gymnast, his teammates and coach. Make sure it is apparent to everyone what it is exactly the gymnast is being asked to do. If the coach instructs one thing and your gymnast understands him differently, he may end up executing something different and his coach may not be able to spot him properly. The gymnast should also be alert to his surroundings and what his other teammates are doing. Being unaware of what is happening around him can cause collisions, which are also one of the causes of injury.
The following are some safety measures that you should be aware of:
1.) Make sure you are wearing the appropriate attire. Flapping clothes, dangling jewellery and body piercings can get caught in equipment, scratch or cut the gymnast, as well as other people.
2.) Be serious during practice. Be aware that horsing around and other rough and tumble games can cause injuries, especially in areas where people are practicing and it is not safe to goof off.
3.) Youngsters with long hair should tie it back or secure it under a bandanna so it does not get in the eyes or get caught in the equipment.
4.) Gum is a no-no during practice or competition; it can easily become stuck in a gymnast’s throat or windpipe during performances.
5.) You should learn to focus and concentrate your attention on what you are doing. If you become distracted or distract someone else, this can spell disaster. Do not bring a MP3 or IPod during practice, don’t tell jokes while another athlete is doing a routine, it might end up badly and injure someone.
These rules are important not only in gymnastics, but also for other sports and in daily life as well. Try to ingrain these rules in you so that you will be able to always keep safe, including everyone else around you.
Determining the Magnitude of Injuries
You’ll need to ascertain what kind of injury you have, whether it is minor or needs immediate medical attention. What are the things you need to consider?
1.) Find the source of the pain – is it concentrated on one area of the body only, or on both sides? If the pain is on both sides of the body, then it is more likely just muscle tenderness. If you complain that both of your thighs hurt, then you’re probably sore from practicing take-offs and landings.
2.) Muscle or joint pain – Ask yourself whether the pain is muscular or joint-related. If the whole muscle hurts, it’s probably just sore. If it’s pinpointing at a certain location, like for instance the bottom of the biceps where it joins the elbow, a tendon may be injured. If the pain is in a joint, just on one side of the body, go to a doctor immediately.
3.) Type of pain – is it sharp and excruciating, or is it a dull throbbing? The latter can be just soreness; the former is a cause to seek medical attention.
4.) Appearance of the injury – look for bruising, swelling or bleeding. Clean any small cuts with antiseptic and apply an antibiotic ointment. Put on bandages as is necessary.
Management of General Injuries
If you have a sharp pain on one side of the body that persists for more than 10 minutes, go to the doctor immediately.
If it is joint pain that lasts for more than a day, even
if it occurs on both sides of the body, the best bet is
to take your child to see an orthopaedic specialist.
Apply an icepack if there is any swelling, and keep it
on the injured area for no longer than 20 minutes. Any
longer than that and the body will think that it has frostbite.
Instead of constricting blood vessels and keeping it away
from the injury site, it brings the blood back and causes
the injury to swell even more.