Cheerleading Safety: A parent's guide for getting kids back in the game
October 24, 2012VYPE DFW Health
VYPE DFW Staff Reporting
Cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. With the rise in youth cheerleading participation, the number of athletes at risk for injury is also increasing. This reference guide provides information on the most common cheerleading injuries that require treatment.
The most common injury in sports is a lateral ankle sprain. This injury occurs in cheerleading by rolling the ankle over the outside of the foot. This often occurs when landing from a jump or stunt, planting awkwardly during a tumbling routine or stepping on a teammate’s foot when moving into position to form a base. A lateral ankle sprain causes damage to the ligaments just below the bone on the out-side of the ankle. In some cases a “pop” is felt or heard by the athlete.
Treatment recommendations vary with the severity of the injury:
• Mild sprains require rest, but not necessarily medical treatment (follow the PRICE treatment plan).
• Injuries with persistent swelling, pain or any deformity should be seen by a physician.
A common injury in cheerleading is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) sprain or tear, which occurs when the knee is twisted forcefully or hyperextended. This often happens when landing from a jump or planting awkwardly during a tumbling routine. Athletes with a damaged ACL often describe a “pop” at the time of injury, followed by a lot of swelling within a few hours.
Athletes should see their pediatrician or a pediatric sports medicine physician if pain and/or swelling persist after PRICE treatment. In addition:
• Patello-femoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee) – pain in the front of the knee related to muscle and tissue stress around the knee cap. This can be addressed with proper training in physical therapy.
• Osteochondritis Dissecans – a defect in the knee’s cartilage that can become evident over time during repetitive activity such as jumping.
• Osgood-Schlatter Disease – stress-related inflammation in a growth center at the front of the knee.
Cheerleading puts a lot of demand on a young athlete’s back due to repetitive maneuvers that require hyperex-tension of the back (such as back walkovers or back bends). Some injuries to the back occur suddenly and are commonly known as a back strain. Others occur more gradually, especially if the body doesn’t have time to recover properly.
Over time repeated hyperextension of the low back can cause:
• Spondylolysis – a stress fracture of the bones in the lower spine, or lumbar vertebrae.
• Spondylolisthesis – the lumbar vertebrae slip forward, if an athlete with a stress fracture continues toparticipate in the sport. This is much more serious and can lead to continued pain that may require treatment. Injuries with persistent swelling, pain or any deformity should be seen by a physician.
Therefore, it is important that cheerleaders experiencing low back pain be restricted from activity until evaluated by their pediatrician or a pediatric sports medicine specialist.
Ongoing studies show that cheerleading continues to be the leading cause for catastrophic injuries in female athletes of high school age and older. Catastrophic injuries have the potential to be deadly or to cause permanent dis-ability. This research reinforces the importance of proper supervision and training of technique and spotting in youth cheerleading.
BUMPS, BRUISES, TWISTS & MUSCLE STRAINS
These can affect all areas of the body. Recommended treatment is the PRICE formula:
Protect the area with a sling or crutches, if necessary.
Rest the injured area.
Ice the injury for 20 minutes at a time.
Compress the injured area with a wrap.
Elevate the injured area above the heart, if possible.
The Children’s Sports Medicine Center offers the only comprehensive, integrated program in North Texas specifically designed for young and growing athletes.
For more information visit: childrens.com/sportsmedicine
This artilce is presented to you by