Cheerleading Can Be Dangerous
Sport can lead to back, shoulder and leg injuriesSUNDAY, March 16 (HealthScoutNews) -- This is not your mother's cheerleading squad.
Gone are the days when cheerleaders stood on the sidelines, their most difficult move a clap to celebrate a field goal. Nowadays, cheerleaders are more likely to outshine the players with their intricate maneuvers.
"Cheerleading has slowly turned into a sport akin to gymnastics," says Dr. Letha Griffin, team physician at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "It's strenuous, and the stunts are intense and complex."
Those complicated lifts, tosses and tumbles mean more injuries for today's cheerleaders. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 21,067 fractures, dislocations and strains/sprains related to cheerleading among kids aged 5 to 18 in 2000.
Sprains and strains of the elbow are perhaps most common, particularly among "fliers" -- the kids who are tossed through the air. Injuries to the knee ligaments, including the anterior cruciate, are most likely when landing. The "base" people -- those who catch the fliers -- are prone to shoulder injuries.
Some aches and pains are unavoidable: "It's the danger inherent in someone flying through the air," Griffin says. However, there are ways to minimize that danger.
Cheerleaders often train on trampolines, so safety should start here:
Always have a spotter.
Never try new moves alone.
Make sure the trampoline is well-padded all the way around.
And here are some more general safety tips:
Bend your knees when landing.
Land in a balanced fashion.
Practice balance drills to improve your neuro-muscular control.
For more on safety in cheerleading, go to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors.
SOURCE: Letha Griffin, M.D., Ph.D., team physician, Georgia State University, Atlanta
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