As we all gear up for the back-to-school marathon, your little gymnast may be getting ready to hit the mats once again. Gymnasts build lots of muscle, and the hours spent training certainly teaches children the importance of dedication and hard work.
So, while there are many great things to say about the sport, gymnasts are also very vulnerable to foot and ankle injuries. Here’s what you need to know about common gymnastics injuries, and some steps you can take to keep your young athlete training safely and free of pain.
3 Most Common Gymnastics Related Foot Injuries
Sprains are an extremely common injury for young gymnasts. Typically, ankle and knee sprains hit gymnasts when something goes wrong during a dismount or landing. One misstep, combined with the force of a tumbling pass or the momentum of a vault, can lead to a very painful injury. The same types of movements can also put gymnasts at risk of lower limb fractures.
If your gymnast has sprained an ankle, he or she will likely have swelling, and it will be painful (but not impossible) to bear weight on the injured foot. If the injury is a fracture, the swelling and tenderness will likely be located directly over a bone. Bruising may be present, and the pain will make walking extremely difficult (though, again, not impossible, which is why every suspected ankle sprain should be examined by your podiatrist to rule out a broken bone.)
Finally, Achilles tendon strains or ruptures are quite common with gymnasts. The Achilles tendon is located just above your heel. With all the running, jumping and hard landings that gymnasts have to stick, their Achilles tendons take major beatings. And sometimes, that repetitive stress is so great it leads to a major injury.
So, now you know some of the scary situations that may result from your gymnast’s training. Let’s look at how we can prevent the worst case scenario for gymnasts.
Tips for Preventing Gymnastics Injuries
These are some crucial steps gymnasts can take to prevent training injuries, courtesy of Stop Sports Injuries, a project of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine:
- Wear required safety gear for all training sessions and competitions, including foot and ankle braces as needed.
- Never train when in pain — if you are hurt, see your Elmhurst podiatrist and follow all instructions carefully
- Inspect equipment to ensure that it is in good condition before getting started
- Insist on spotters when you’re trying a new move
- Warm up your muscles with light aerobic exercise, such as jumping jacks or running in place, before beginning training or new activities
If you have already suffered a foot or ankle injury while doing gymnastics, we can help. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible for a complete evaluation.