In our previous article, the Brace Shop spoke of a recent study that seemed to declassify cheerleading from the list of sports activities even though by all definitive means, cheerleading squads have been competing against one another for more than 20 years. With the terms of cheerleading now defined, it’s important that we look for those most common injuries among the participants as well as the kinds of strategies that have been encouraged to limit severe, long-term problems.
One of the most recent and well-known groups active in the injury prevention world is STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention). When it comes to cheerleading, they have classified five primary (or most common) areas of the body that usually suffer: wrists, shoulders, ankles, head and neck. This isn’t to say that feet, elbows, and backs never get hurt during a cheerleading competition, but one can imagine that the five most common are more reflective of the way in which cheerleaders fall or ‘brace’ themselves for a fall (pun intended).
While most cheerleading squads are coached with correctly managed, but intensive training, here are a few strategies for limiting injuries either in practice or during a live event.
- Provide mats at all times, including practices and competitions (even circuses use a net for their acrobats)
- Avoid continued stunts if any member is excessively tired, already injured, or even minorly ill as this may be the cause for their own or another cheerleader’s accident.
- Ensure that stunts are in compliance with the restrictions on pyramids and basket tosses. An attempt to break these rules in search of a greater ‘wow’ factor is not a risk worth taking. There are other ways to ‘wow’ the judges.
A list of suggestions for injury prevention can always be added to, but this is a sufficient reminder, especially, for the young people who consider getting into cheerleading and aren’t quite sure what is safe and what is dangerous.