Shoes and Foot Injuries for Gymnasts
Attempting to protect the ankles and the feet can conflict with the gymnastics principle of keeping this area aesthetically pleasing in order to appear lithe and graceful. So if your child wraps a thick padded bandage to cushion her joints against the shock of landing or dismounting, the more ungainly she will look. Another matter to consider will be the loss of traction.
Gymnasts need a lot of traction in the execution of some
moves. Other times, like when performing a controlled
slide, they don’t use much of it at all.
- Apparatus shoes are used in events where feet come into contact with surfaces only during dismounts. They are very light and are crafted to look very attractive on the feet. Soles of these shoes are usually made from thin leather or stretch nylon, which provides the gymnast with exceptional traction. Traction is needed during dismounts to prevent sliding, and if sliding does occur, the traction will help the gymnast recover sufficient balance.
- Vault shoes are sole-padded heavy-duty shoes that absorb the shock of landing. Before Port-a-Pits were introduced, many gymnasts used vault shoes. Nowadays, with the advent of Port-a-Pits, vault shoes have been converted into an apparatus shoe with extra reinforced toes to absorb the bursting pressure that occurs during impact. A majority of gymnasts still prefer a pair of soft but strong leather shoes, though.
- Depending on the type of floor exercise the gymnast specializes in, there can be different kinds of shoes to choose from. Each gymnast picks a floor exercise routine which emphasizes her strengths and downplays her weak points. So if the gymnast is the tumbling type, he/she will need a padded shoe to absorb the impact of landing, although it may deter from the aesthetics of form. A gymnast who prefers to incorporate more dance moves into her routine will need a shoe that slides with each movement.
- Balance beam shoes can vary according
to a gymnast’s preference. One popular choice is a pair
of stretch nylon shoes with rubber soles. Shoes with dry
leather soles can be used for maximum traction, or dampened
with a wet towel to achieve more slide. A gymnast can
also use resin to provide traction.
Always seek the coach’s opinion about safety gear, and
take note of the ones he recommends. Don’t make your own
decisions about safety without proper guidance from a
coach. The coach knows what kind of protection you need
based on your skills, participated events and level of
Finally, at all times, remember – in case of doubt, ask
Gymnasts can suffer from a variety of different foot
conditions such as heel pain, arch pain, cracked heel
and athlete’s foot. Foot injuries can include
strains, stress fractures, heel bruises,
and swollen growth plates. Because your feet support all
of your weight and must absorb a lot of force over and
over again, they can be particularly susceptible to injury.
Another reason some teens may suffer foot injuries is
because of differences in their feet. For example, some
people have flat feet or high arches. These differences
don't mean that sports should be avoided, but it does
mean that precautions, such as a special shoe insert,
may be needed.
Recommended Foot Care Products for Gymnasts