Cheerleading has come a long way since its debut in the 1800s. Back then, you might pull a hamstring doing a leg kick, but the idea of hurling someone 20-feet in the air and then catching them just didn’t enter into the equation. Fast forward to 2017 and cheerleading is a rear round sport, with dedicated gyms, death defying stunts to rival a circus and a whole slew of injuries. In fact, cheerleaders make up only 3% of total female athletes, but they incur 65% of catastrophic injuries.
At MSA, we see a number of cheerleading-related injuries per year. Most are of the strain and sprain variety, but we also see broken bones, ligament tears, and head injuries. The sad part is that most of these injuries could have been prevented with the proper precautions the people at Stopsportsinjuries.com have compiled a list of easy-to-implement precautions and procedures to reduce injuries
- Stunts are when most injuries occur. For that reason, certain restrictions and procedures should be observed to protect the athletes from injury.
- A limit of two body lengths for the high school level and 2.5 body lengths, with a base in direct contact with the ground, should be observed when performing pyramid stunts. Cheerleaders are not allowed to be inverted or rotate when dismounting the pyramid.
- When performing a basket toss, the number of throwers should be limited to four and one of the throwers must remain behind the flyer at all time to serve as a last-ditch defense against an injury.
- Mat should always be used during practice sessions, and if feasible during performances.
- It’s up to the coach to ensure that no cheerleader attempts a stung when tired, injured or ill.
- It is also up to the coach whether it is a good idea to perform a stunt in inclement weather. It’s best to err on the side of caution.
- The best way to prevent injury is through proper training and preparation. Here are a few training tips. It goes without saying that all training exercises should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach.
- Use resistance exercises to increase strength in the lower back, stomach and shoulders as these are the muscles most often used in cheerleading.
- Complex and thorough stretching is an absolute must before performing any cheer-related activities.
- It’s best if your team has a dedicated athletic trainer or medical professional available to discuss any injuries and prevention strategies. The trainer can also determine when an athlete is ready to perform again.
Here at MSA, we deal with all manner of injuries, including cheerleading injuries. Let our staff of professionals help you in your recovery and get you back to performing in record time.