Gymnastics Injuries

Gymnasts are amazing athletes that are daring and strong. However, they need to find a balance between strength and flexibility, not just on the beam. These athletes tend to rely on their joints and inherent hypermobility to perform various skills, but really need to use musculature control for stabilization to prevent injury.

Preventing Gymnastics Injuries

Landing Technique

Athletes should practice landing technique and form out of various skills to prevent injuries, especially knee injuries. Sometimes gymnasts will have a blind landing and need to be able to prepare appropriately for lower extremity positioning.

Common Gymnastics Injuries and Conditions

Compression Fracture of the Spine

Compression fracture of the spine occurs when the vertebrae in the spine are pressed together beyond the pressure it can withstand, and the vertebra breaks. This can happen from a sudden traumatic injury, through gradual thinning from osteoporosis, making the vertebra more susceptible to breaking, or even from cancer of the spine. Compression fractures usually occur in the middle to lower back region.

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Dislocated Shoulder

When a shoulder is dislocated, the normal ball in socket formation is disrupted. The shoulder injury occurs when the ball is forced forward, backward or downward out of the shoulder socket. Dislocations can be partial or full, but both cause pain and instability. Very commonly, dislocations are the result of a sports-related injury or fall.

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Hip Labral Tear

The hip joint consists of a ball and socket, which is lined with a cartilage padding called the labrum. The labrum stabilizes and cushions the joint, when this is torn from degeneration or traumatic injury, it can reduce the effectiveness of the labrum. The severity of the hip injury can range greatly, with some tears not even requiring treatment.

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Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and its cord-like structure connects the lower leg muscles to the heel bone. This tendon is vital for walking and moving the foot. When the tendon experiences repeated or excessive force, the result can be a tear, or rupture, in the Achilles tendon.

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Sprained Ankle

The ankle joint is held in place by ligaments which stabilize it. When these ligaments are stretched beyond what they can bear from a sudden twist, turn or rolling of the ankle, the result is a sprain. Depending on the severity, this could even include the ligament being torn.

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Knee Ligament Injury (ACL, PCL, MCL)

The majority of stabilization in the knee comes from the ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are made up of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which cross to form an “x” shape inside the knee. The collateral ligaments provide additional stability on the inside of the knee through the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and outside of the knee through the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The LCL is not addressed in the following information, as it is seldom injured. Ligament injuries can come from sports-related movements such as pivoting, jumping, stopping quickly, or a direct impact to the knee. These injuries can happen to people of many ages and activity levels, and is by no means limited to athletes.

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Spondylolysis/Lumbar Stress Reaction

Spondylolysis is also known as a stress fracture, the lumbar spine is susceptible to over use from constant over stretching (hyperextension) at the spine. This can result as a stress fracture on one or both sides of the vertebraThis bony abnormality can alter the position of the spinal segment causing it to shift.

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Dislocated Elbow

This injury typically occurs from contact or a blow to the joint causing the elbow joint surfaces to separate. There can be both full and partial separations of this joint. A full separation (dislocation) will have a visual deformity and will need medical attention while a partial dislocation (subluxation) can be harder to identify and usually relocates on its own.  Elbow dislocations/subluxations can occur in contact sports such as wrestling.

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Groin Strain

An overstretching of the muscles on the inner aspects of the thigh attaching from the pelvis to the femur. Typical strains occur due to rapid movements to the side or jumps in hockey, football or gymnastics

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A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury that involves a complex pathophysiological response in the brain. No bleeding or bruising of the brain occurs. A concussion affects the way the brain functions and processes sensory information, emotions, behaviors, balance, memory and learning. This is referred to as a "functional injury" not a "structural injury."

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