National Cheerleading Safety to Prevent Injuries
Cheering for Safety
Give us an S, an A, an F, E, T, Y! What do we have? SAFETY! Why are we cheering? Because March is Cheerleading Safety Month, and as always, the staff at Altus Emergency Centers is cheering for your child’s safety.
Cheerleading has come a long way since it’s early days, and it is now a highly competitive and demanding sport, and like with any other sport, cheerleaders are susceptible to sports injuries. There has been a lot of debate regarding the number of injuries sustained by cheerleaders, some claim it is on the rise while others feel critical injuries have diminished in recent years thanks to new safety rules applied to the sport.
Common Cheerleading Injuries
Both are correct, thankfully catastrophic cheerleading injuries have declined considerably during the last decade, however, the number of cheerleader emergency room visits for non-catastrophic injuries has increased, these injuries include:
• Ankle Sprains
• Knee Injuries
• Wrist Injuries
• Shoulder Injuries
• Lower Back Pain, and Concussions
Altus ER Tips to Cheer Safe!
School cheerleading programs must have a certified cheerleading coach managing the program, and there are safety guidelines that must be followed to ensure the wellbeing of the athletes, these include:
Using the Right Equipment
The use of landing mats is not currently mandatory either during practice sessions or performances, but these are recommended.
Most cheerleading-related injuries occur during practice especially when learning new maneuvers, it is advisable to always practice using 4-inch landing mats to avoid serious injuries.
Footgear is an important factor in injury prevention, cheerleaders should wear properly fitting rubber-soled shoes with adequate cushioning and ankle support. Additionally, flyers should consider wearing a cheering vest during practice to protect themselves from bruising and injury.
Choose a Safe Place to Practice
Back in the day when cheerleading was mostly about waving pom-poms and chanting, it was safe to practice out in the open. Because cheerleading now involves advanced acrobatics and gymnastics, practice spaces should be chosen carefully. Never practice on wet or uneven surfaces like grass or turf, instead look for smooth, level, and dry places to practice in which are clear of obstacles that may cause injury.
Stay in Shape
Cheerleading requires a great deal of strength and balance, and therefore athletes should take great care of their fitness all year-round.
Like with any sport it is important not to overdo it, cheerleaders should take time to rest between training sessions to avoid overuse injuries.
Given that cheerleading now requires gymnastic skills, it is not a bad idea to enroll your child in a gymnastics program, this will serve to improve the child’s skills, and confidence which will help prevent injuries.
Stretch, Warm Up, and Cool Down
We cannot stress how important warming exercises and proper stretching techniques are, these have been proven to reduce muscle strain and prevent injuries, however, cool down exercises and after workout stretching exercises are just as important in injury prevention.
Follow Stunt Progression
The saying you need to learn to crawl before you learn to walk applies to everything in life, especially advanced gymnastic sports. Coaches need to ensure cheerleaders learn the basic skills before introducing more advanced movements and stunts.
Altus Emergency Cares About Cheerleading Safety
At Altus Emergency Centers, we applaud the level of commitment and skill being a cheerleader requires, we encourage students to challenge themselves, improve their skills and push themselves to do things they never thought were possible, but, we urge, parents, coaches, and athletes alike to always put safety first.