Gymnastics is a very competitive sport that involves a lot of time, patience, strength, dedication and commitment. It is a sport that involves both your body and your mind. It works every single one of your muscles.
It is common for athletes to get injured due to numerous scenarios. Maybe your athlete landed on his/her ankle the wrong way and twisted it. Maybe your athlete tripped while running fell, and broke his/her arm. Maybe your athlete tore his/her ACL or another muscle because of improper stretching. Maybe your athlete made a mistake in his/her formation and it caused him/her to not stick his/her landing.
Regardless of the situation or what even happened, an injury is very likely to happen when in contact with other people or things when it has to do with sports.
Thankfully, there are a lot of things that you can do to help prevent injury or from an injury getting worse. I have seen many gymnasts get hurt. I have seen gymnasts get injured not only during the Olympics on TV but also right in front of me. Just because there are padded mats underneath the equipment your gymnast uses does not mean your gymnast cannot get hurt. Gymnastics is rough on the body so it is important to make sure you (or your gymnast/athlete) are taking the precautions to stay safe!
Tips on How to Prevent Injury
1. Warm up stretching
Loosening your muscles before working them is very important. If you were to just go ahead and perform a floor routine, or even a bar routine without stretching you can really hurt yourself.
Warming up and stretching will loosen up your muscles and get your heart pumping. You can start your warm-up exercises with jumping jacks, running in place, burpees, jump lunges, or even suicides. After warming up for a few minutes, follow up by stretching. Make sure to stretch your arms, legs, core, neck, wrists, and ankles!
2. Cool down stretching
Cooldowns and stretching after gymnastics practices and meets are just as prime as warm-ups and stretching before the events. To be quite honest, a lot of people, in general, forget to include this into their fitness routines. Cooldowns and stretches are great for the muscles to relax (while still working at the same time) and also help with muscle aches.
Something to remember while stretching: Breathe while stretching and working out! Having a proper breathing pattern will help prevent cramps. Having a breathing pattern can also help ease the mind and relax the body as well.
3. Drink plenty of fluids
Hydrating your body throughout practice and meets will help your body cool itself down. If you are dehydrated during a practice or meet, it can affect your performance tremendously. Not being hydrated can cause headaches, muscle cramps, exhaustion, and dizziness.
Drinking fluids before, during and even after physical activity is highly recommended. Replenish that body of yours, it is surely working hard!
4. Having the right essentials
Grips, tape, chalk, pads, braces; these are all things a gymnast may use while practicing or competing. These are things that help gymnasts get a better grip on equipment as well as using these things as support.
It is unsafe to use equipment in the gym that requires gymnast essentials. For example, if your gymnast is practicing on the bars and he/she does not have grips, then it would be a lot harder for him/her to complete a skill and the wear and tear will cut your gymnast’s hands.
5. Making sure the equipment is safe
There are four events in a meet. The four events are beam, bars, floor, and vault. In order for gymnasts to prepare for meets, they may use a lot of different equipment to help them to their advantage.
The equipment is being used over, and over, and over again by many different gymnasts of all different ages and sizes. It is normal for some of the equipment to become lose, crooked or not totally secure. Before every practice and meet, please make sure that there are not any issues for a gymnast can get hurt. Make sure everything is where it is supposed to be, and as sturdy as it should be.
6. Clear the mind
I mentioned earlier in this post that gymnastics is not just a body sport but also a mind sport. Making sure that you (or your gymnast) have a clear mind is beneficial when it comes to gymnastics. Mental blocks are common in gymnastics because of fears, anxiety, or nerves; but it can be prevented by focusing on technique and practicing a skill safely on the floor with proper mats and cushions before trying it on the beam, bars, or vault.
Not having confidence can cause complications in routines. It is key to take time and practice formation rather than rush it to get it over with.
But, I am injured…now what?
If you (or your gymnast) have an injury it is important to do what your coaches and doctor advise you to do! The worst thing you can do is not listen and put more stress or tension on your injury.
If you are injured, take time to chill! Relaxing will help your bones and muscles get back to the way they need to be in order for you to get back to the gym. If you are constantly walking on that sprained foot or putting pressure on that broken arm, you are only going to make it worse and end up causing yourself to be more delayed.
Read also: How to Cheer up an Injured Athlete
Take time to work on strength building exercises and stretches. Low-intensity workouts can help keep you in shape so when it is time to go back to gymnastics you (or your gymnast) will not be completely out of the loop. The goal is to keep force off the injury so it can heal properly. Your coaches will work with you on an appropriate pace to help you get back into the routine of things.
Please feel free to comment below to share any feedback, advice, questions, experiences, or anything else that may fall under the subject of preventing injury in gymnastics!