Something to Cheer About: Cheerleading and Chiropractic

cheerleading and chiropracticThe National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research lists cheerleading as the most dangerous sport for women. Chiropractic care can help prevent injuries and when they do happen, can help cheerleaders recover more quickly.  Thus, making cheerleading and chiropractic something to cheer about!

Cheerleading and Chiropractic

Cheerleading is a very physically demanding sport, particularly when participants perform routines that involve gymnastics or acrobatics or execute maneuvers that require them to support a lot of weight. Sprains, strains, and lower back pain are very common among cheerleaders.

Anyone who watches elite cheerleaders in action, either during a game or at competitions, has some idea why this might be. Performing well as a cheerleader requires excellent balance, strength and range of motion.

Cheerleader Stunts and Injuries

Most cheerleading injuries are from repetitive or overuse activities, including “plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, ankle sprains, stress fractures, hip strains, and inflammation around the hips”.  It is the gymnastics portion of cheerleading that contributes most to overuse.

The lower back is often hyperextended from back flips, back bends, back handsprings, and standing.  Knee injuries are also common, due to the shoes, stunts, and landing “tumbling maneuvers”.  Cheerleaders also suffer from overuse of the elbows, shoulders, and wrists, especially for those “at the base of the partner stunts.

Prevention

Some injuries can be prevented, such as setting stunt restrictions:

  • Consider limiting pyramid height, increasing the number of spotters, or changing the “thrower-flyer ratio”.
  • Injured or ill cheerleaders should not engage in stunts, and mats should be used as often as possible.
  • Some training in safety should also be included in the sport.
  • Coaches should be certified.
  • Stunts shouldn’t be performed in inclement weather or without proper training.
  • Cheerleaders should only engage in stunts in which they feel confident, and proper supervision needs to be required.
  • Physical conditioning can also prevent injuries, so ensure athletes engage in yoga, Pilates, or stretching for flexibility, resistance exercises for strength, and making sure cheerleaders do not perform when injured.

Chiropractic Care

When injuries occur, getting back in condition as soon as possible is important.  Like other athletes, cheerleaders have their share of injuries and work to perform at their best.  During an acute injury, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) can be utilized.  Chiropractic is effective for many sports injuries.

Professional cheerleaders often seek chiropractic care, as it is safe, non-invasive, and effective for many of the injuries, such as pulled hamstrings and lower back pain.  Tight hamstrings are a common cheerleader complaint, and chiropractors can offer treatment such as the Cox Technic, exercises, stretches, and even nutritional advice.

Chiropractic care may help prevent future degenerative issues by decreasing the “extensive wear and tear on (the) bodies”.  Aside from pain relief, chiropractic treatments could also help athletes maintain better balance and body control.