Each year, more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries are treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers. Gymnasts must consistently prepare for the rigorous physical and emotional toils that the sport requires.
With the complexity of routines, the risk of potential injury increases. Injuries most commonly occur in the ankles, feet, lower back, knees, wrists, and hands, often from overuse or simple stress. Injuries are rarely severe, but if left untreated they can lead to chronic pain and bone fractures.
What are some of the most common gymnastics injuries?
Because the upper body is used as a weight-bearing joint in gymnastics, injuries to the shoulder, elbow, and wrist are common and may include:
- Superior Labrum, Anterior-Posterior (SLAP) Lesions in the Shoulder
- Elbow Dislocation
- Wrist Sprains
The most common gymnastics injuries to the lower body involve the knee and ankle. Lower extremity injuries usually result from the landing and dismount activities and may include:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
- Achilles Tendon Injury
- Lower Back Injuries
How can injury be prevented?
Many gymnastics injuries can be prevented by following proper training guidelines, using safety equipment, and incorporating the following tips:
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- Wear all required safety gear whenever competing or training — special equipment may include wrist guards, hand grips, footwear, ankle or elbow braces, and pads
- Do not “play through the pain” — if you are hurt, see your doctor and follow instructions for treatment and recovery fully
- Make sure first aid is available at all competitions and practices
- Inspect equipment to ensure that it is in good condition, including padded floors, secured mats under every apparatus, and safety harnesses for learning difficult moves
- Insist on spotters when learning new skills
- Warm up muscles with light aerobic exercise, such as jumping jacks or running in place, before beginning training or new activities