March is national cheerleading month. Who knew? You probably did if you have a bouncing, jumping, flipping cheerleader at home. Unfortunately, you’re probably also familiar with the injuries accompanying such an acrobatic sport. Hopefully your little tumbler hasn’t made a urgent care or hospital visit as a result of cheerleading, but if they have – it’s probably for one of these top three cheer injuries:
- Ankle Sprains: all that jumping and tumbling means your cheerleader has plenty of opportunities to land on their ankle wrong. If your athlete leaves practice with difficulty walking or pain in their ankle, it’s likely they incurred an ankle sprain. You’ll possibly need to get an x-ray or in the least, begin a RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevate the ankle) treatment.
- Knee Injuries: coming do hard from a stunt or tumbling pass causes wear and tear on the knees. It’s not uncommon for cheerleaders to suffer knee overuse injuries which require RICE treatment and sometimes support bracing or physical therapy. More serious knee injuries like an ACL tear are possible and would require immediate treatment. Anytime your child complains of severe knee pain, visit a doctor.
- Wrist Injuries: with high tosses and handsprings, it’s no wonder your cheerleader might experience a wrist injury. While coaches work to teach their cheerleaders how to fall correctly (counter intuitively, this means not breaking the fall with outstretched hands), it’s still an extremely common cheerleading injury. Visit a doctor if your child’s wrist is swollen or painful; treatment may be as simple as RICE and support bracing, or more serious and require an X-ray.
While there’s no proven way to avoid cheerleading injuries altogether, HealthyChildren.Org recommends ensuring your cheer gym has appropriate equipment, trained coaches, and a plan in place for injuries. Additionally, they advise all stunts are performed with spotters and that your cheerleader maintains a good fitness level.
To check your child’s fitness level and general health, most schools require yearly sports physicals (not to replace your child’s annual well child appointment). MedSpring offers walk-in or the ability to hold your place in line same-day/next day for sports physicals – make sure you bring your school or gym’s specific sports physical form to the appointment, and keep in mind cheer coaches most likely require the physical to be completed prior to try outs.
We hope your cheerleader stays healthy and injury-free, but if not, we’re open every day from 8 am – 8 pm and have digital X-ray onsite to check out any potential sprains or fractures.