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January 2022

´╗┐Health Prevention News

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Injury Prevention for Cheerleaders

Cheerleading is a complex sport with varying difficulty levels with jumps, tumbling, stunts, and dancing. These movements are completed on various surfaces and in all types of weather conditions. With all that goes into the sport, there are numerous ways to get injured. 

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research 2017 report ranked cheerleading as the number one cause of catastrophic injuries in female athletes. However, many of these injuries can be prevented to avoid a catastrophic injury for the female athlete.

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Stretching Injuries

As a cheerleader, it's important to have good flexibility, especially in the lower body. Stretching is a big part of practices, warmups before practice, games, and competitions. However, stretching is not a warmup. Improper stretching can do more harm than good. When stretching, hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds. Expect to feel tension as you stretch. But, if you feel pain, you've gone too far. Back off the stretch until you don't feel pain and then hold your stretch. 

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Stunt Injuries

Stunts are a large part of cheerleading, especially for competitive squads. In a surveillance study conducted around cheerleading injuries, it was found that over 50% of cheerleading injuries stem from stunts. Lower body injuries and strains and sprains were the most common injuries that occurred. With proper body mechanics, some of these injuries can be prevented. For specific stunting protocol, instruction, and safety, defer to trained coaches. 

ProAction Pointers for Cheerleading

Stretching:

  • Perform a proper dynamic warm up before stretching. 
  • Avoid pushing another cheerleader into their stretches or splits.
  • Don't bounce. Hold your stretches for 30 seconds without moving.
  • Don't push into pain.  

Stunting: 

  • Don't arch your back when lifting or holding the stunt. Keep your spine in a neutral position. 
  • When catching your flyer, bend your knees to help absorb their momentum. 
  • Catch your flyer with your arms close to your body. Catching with arms further away places more stress on your body and provides less security and stability for your flyer. 
  • When dismounting from a stunt, land in an athletic position with your knees bent. 
  • When performing a pop down or a full down, keep your arms in tight to avoid injury to your shoulders and face. 
  • When standing in a stunt, keep your core tight and your glutes squeezed for increased stability.
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