Gymnastics is a sport that requires incredible amounts of strength, flexibility, and balance/body control. Flexibility and shoulder and hip range-of-motion are vital components of training. Strong core strength, stability, and body control are also essential to avoid injuries and perform at a high level.
Though gymnastic training does not usually involve weights, gymnasts tend to have very high strength-to-weight ratios and power outputs. They accomplish this by performing body weight exercises such as pushups, pull ups, and various jumps.
Gymnastics is primarily an anaerobic event, but there is still an endurance aspect to competition. Endurance should be achieved through repetitive execution of one’s routine. All this high impact and repetition can cause acute sprains and strains, as well as overuse injuries.
Since most gymnasts begin training at a very young age, one area of vital concern is injuries to the growth plates due to the high impact stress of landings and jumps. These occur frequently in the wrists, but can occur in various joints throughout the body.
The need for proper rest and nutrition is vital to optimum performance. Often injuries and poor performance are warning signs of over-training, or poor sports nutrition.
To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:
Each year, more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries are treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers2
One study found that the most common acutely injured body parts were the foot (21.0%), the ankle (19.3%), the knee (14.0%), and the wrist (8.8%)3
Floor exercise (32.1%), beam (20.7%), and bars (17.0) were the activities that resulted in the most injuries3
Female gymnasts are more likely than males to sustain injuries to the upper-extremities, while males are more likely to sustain head/neck injuries4
Among gymnasts ages 12-17, lower-extremity injuries and strains/sprains are the most prevalent type of injury, while in younger gymnasts (6-11), upper-extremity fractures/dislocations are most common4
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.