Cheerleading is more popular and more athletic than ever. Cheerleaders not only lead a crowd in cheers, but also perform increasingly difficult:
Although it generally is not a risky sport, the injuries that do occur can be severe. Cheerleaders must be healthy and strong to ensure their own safety and the safety of others on their squads.
Common injuries that can occur in competitive cheerleading include:
Among the more serious, sometimes season-ending, injuries are:
Cheerleading is a year-round sport, with games and competitions during every season. Cheerleaders often cheer for three seasons and then may take part in competitions.
Continuous training and performances increase the chance of overuse injuries.
Any young athlete that experiences pain or soreness for more than 48 hours, should be evaluated by a medical professional.
The experts at UPMC Sports Medicine's Young Athlete Program can work with your pediatrician to evaluate and aggressively treat your young cheerleader's injury to help prevent more serious long-term effects.
A good warm-up and physical conditioning are just as important in preventing cheerleading as in every other sport.
Practice should begin with a light cardiovascular warm up, followed by proper stretching of the:
This will help provide flexibility for tumbling skills and stunts.
Another way to prevent injuries in cheerleading is to make sure the cheerleader has learned the proper technique for basic skills before trying more difficult ones.
Without a good foundation in the basics, performing higher level tumbling and stunts not only is more difficult, but also unsafe.
When learning new skills, cheerleaders should take the following safety precautions:
Cheerleaders perform on different surfaces, including:
Each surface has a different amount of cushioning and degree of levelness. Tumbling and stunts should be practiced on every surface.
In addition, when moving from outdoor football season to indoor basketball season, it's best to decrease the intensity of the training. This allows the body to adjust to the firmer, less forgiving surface of the basketball court.
Any time a switch is made from one surface to another, adjustments to the intensity of practice will help with injury prevention.
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) offers a safety education program for cheerleading coaches and athletes.
The AACCA also has enacted rules limiting:
To schedule an appointment with a physician or other Sports Medicine expert, call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).
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