Gymnasts require the highest level of controlled flexibility. It combines beauty and elegance with superhuman feats thus increasing the complexity. Gymnastics is the only sport where each and every part of the body is tested at 100%. Hence injuries are not uncommon to the gymnasts.
Spinal Injuries – The Highest Amongst Gymnasts
Almost 40% of the gymnastic injuries are related to the spine. Of all the body parts, spine is the most stressed part since it experiences extreme range of motion. It is the ‘back bone’ of all the moves in a real sense. Consequently, almost all gymnasts suffer from lower back pain at one point or the other in their career. Other serious spinal injuries include Spondylysis, Herniated Discs, Scheuermann’s disease, Scoliosis, fractures etc. If ignored, such injuries can actually lead to the end of the gymnast’s career. It’s important to have a planned approach to diagnose and treat these conditions. Let’s find out why is there a higher incidence of spinal injuries in gymnastics.
Causes of Spinal Injuries in Gymnasts
- Biomechanics of gymnastics
Take-off from the ground, landing on the floor, somersaults, vault, dismounts – all these skills and positions put maximum pressure on the spine.
- Fatigue and overuse
Strenuous training and competitions put continuous stress on ligaments and muscles. Fatigue sets in and the unprotected back starts to give in.
- Improper Technique
Imperfect landing or dismount, absence of proper warm up and stretching before the performance make the spine prone to injuries.
- Weak muscles and ligaments
Weak abdominal muscles can’t take the difficult moves. A weak ‘core’ has lesser stamina and greater chances of injury.
Hence a strong ‘core’ is very crucial for a gymnast. For peak performance, the ‘core’ has to be the powerhouse of the whole body. Gymnastics physiotherapy is an excellent fitness program to develop a strong core. Happy Physio expertise is in Gymnastics Physiotherapy. Our team comprises of experienced gymnastics and dance physiotherapists.
Sports Physiotherapy strengthens the lower back
Since gymnastics starts at a very early age, hence it’s very important to start strengthening the ‘core’ early on. However adult regime or practices are not suitable for the gymnasts who are in puberty. Happy Physio takes care of this aspect and starts with an age appropriate strengthening routine. Let’s see what is included in the ‘core’ strengthening routine.
- Strength Training
The whole idea of strength training is to train you in a way that whenever force is required, it comes from within the ‘core’. The ‘core’ comprises of abdominal, obliques and lower back muscles. It’s these muscles which should be the power source of your body. A strong ‘core’ will help to stabilize the complex movements. Happy Physio recommends strengthening exercises like hollow body hold, v-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats etc. These exercises will help you to build functional strength required to learn complex gymnastics skills.
- Cardiovascular exercises
Cardiovascular exercises keep the fat levels low. Jogging, running, swimming, skipping, climbing stairs, cycling help to burn the fat and calories. These cardio exercises will increase your heart rate, burn the calories and tone the abdominal muscles. These exercises will help you to increase the stamina to take on the long gymnastics training hours.
- Stretching and warm up
Stretching is an integral part of gymnastics. Stretching stabilizes the muscles, increases the training ability and improves gymnastics performance. However a proper warm up is very important to maximize the positive impact of stretching. Since gymnastics uses all body parts, warm up is required for lower limbs, upper limbs, spinal and abdominal muscles to get the blood flowing to all body parts. Happy Physio will design a stretching program specifically for you in combination with the required warm up. Call us at (08) 9272 7359 now to set an appointment with us.