We all know that cheerleading is a contact sport and that bumps and bruises are just the name of the game. Unfortunately though there are a lot of other injuries that individuals are facing as a cheerleader.
Muscle Pulls and Tears: Unfortunately cheerleaders are likely to pull or tear just about any muscle in the body due to the stress of sudden, explosive movements.
Whip Lash: When a cheerleader is unfortunate enough to experience a fall from a height that causes the head to whip back, he or she may experience whip lash. This is why in cheerleading we always practice hands on spotting and use extreme caution when executing new and advanced skills.
Shoulder Injuries: There is no other activity besides tumbling that requires an athlete to suddenly have to endure the entire weight of their body on their shoulders abruptly. This commonly causes a tear in the shoulder when the proper warm up, stretching and strength is not completed or obtained by an athlete.
Back Injuries: Because of the tremendous torque and abrupt downward force that cheerleaders are exposed to the entire spine is constantly at risk for injury.
Elbow Injuries: If for some reason the elbow gives way during a tumbling a tumbling pass or cheerleading stunt cheerleader can sprain or tear the ligaments in the elbow.
Wrist Sprains and Pains: Constant tumbling and repetitive cheerleading stunts put the wrists at danger for sprains and pains.
Knee Tears: Without proper technique and strength the knees is susceptible to tears and pulls from tumbling, stunting, and dismounts.
Ankle Sprains and Fractures: Something as simple as landing off balance during jumps, tumbling, or dismounts from stunts can cause the ankle to roll, sprain or even fracture.
To be honest, a lot of cheerleaders are susceptible to the common injuries in gymnasts. The sport definitely takes a toll on the body, however there are ways to help prevent these injuries. The key to preventing most injuries is going to be strength and balance training of your entire body. This not only will help to prevent injuries but it will improve your performance as an athlete as well. For example, if the athlete that is on the bottom of the pyramid in the middle holding it up and doesn’t have the strongest back the entire pyramid may come toppling down, thus causing injury to several athletes at once. The other key aspect to preventing most injuries is going to be to focus on your flexibility. The warm up and cool down of a practice can be key to the success and health of an athletic team.
There may be a lot of injuries associated with the sport but every sport comes with a level of danger. with the proper conditioning and strength training athletes can minimize the amount of time spent sidelined by all types of injuries. The key is to be smart and safe with every tumbling pass and stunt you partake in at practice, a game, competition etc.