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Injuries in Rhythmic Gymnastics

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Rhythmic Gymnastics is a kind of sport that requires complex coordination. Children dreaming to become professional rhythmic gymnasts and skillful gymnasts should perfectly control their bodies and know specific features of their musculoskeletal system internally, so to speak. Gymnast will never make success without this knowledge and feeling. Sure, it is possible to develop musculoskeletal system to perfection, but these gymnasts won’t live long as scale pan of injuries will outbalance their hard work. But the situation is different about the gymnasts who are flexible and graceful by nature. These girls will take the most important skills for body development from their trainer and will achieve best results. However, even born gymnasts can’t avoid injuries.

Training practice shows that most of the rhythmic gymnastics injuries are of chronic character. Basic injuries are met rarely. And it is easy to explain: sportsmen suffer from a chronic pain for many years, training hard in order to achieve better results. Multiple repetition of the same movement causes such injuries. And this leads to bad and inconvertible consequences. For example, Lyasan Utyasheva proceeded to train and compete with the multiple fractures of navicular bone of one foot and bones diastasis of the other foot.

Acute injuries are injuries of quick response (muscles sprain, bump, dislocation of any kind of severity level etc.). It is easy to diagnose them and that means they’re easy to treat. These injuries are unpleasant because of pain, but they help doctors and coaches to plan training process in such a way that gymnast couldn’t suffer from the relapse. After rehabilitation course gymnasts usually quickly return to their fit and inflow to competition life with ease.

According to statistics lower limbs are injured more often, as they are loaded heavily most of the time; torso and back come after them (lumbar in particular); then higher limbs and neck come.

Most of the injures are connected either with a bad technique of performing some elements or incorrect gymnastics teaching methods. However, the third variant is also possible, when girls, who cannot go in for this complicated sport according to the medical conditions, come to gymnastics schools. Unfortunately, this happens not rarely: many parents bring their children to gymnastics in order to make their personal dreams come true or in order their child could recover her health. But they should remember that rhythmic gymnastics won’t solve these problems. It is a specific sport that requires strong health aside from inborn aptitudes for this particular discipline. Strong health means not only good immune system, but the absence of such ailments as myopia of all severity levels, scoliosis, flat foot and some other diseases.

Health requirements for potential and skillful gymnasts are also connected with the probability that above mentioned ailments could not only appear, but even get worse because of the hard loading young girls (3-4 years old) come through.

High level of injuries is directly connected with the development of spring, flexibility and rotation abilities. These elements are seemed to be very easy as gymnasts do them with lightness, but nobody thinks about the fact what tiresome, mechanical, hard and long work was done in order to achieve absolutely free gymnastic movement.

The following steps are takes for preventing injuries during the training:

-          Arching and low bows, various turns and rotations (with the weighting material and help of the coach or team fellow) preparing intervertebral discs for further load.

-          Hops and hand walking in prone position, wrist rotations (in gloves and wool hand cuffs) warming the wrist joint up

-          Exercises with tennis ball and grips; rotation of loaded roller for the development of muscles attaching wrist joint.

-          Rotating and jerking movements, arm-pumping exercises with gymnastics bars and weighting material for the development of elbow and shoulder joints

-          Rotating movements with and without resistance, heel rise by 5 cm, walking on toes in pointes, balance on various surfaces and other exercise to warm ankle-joint up.

The absence of warm-ups on the training can cause skin failures on the palms, inflamed sores, calluses, sprains, skin crevices, bumps, dislocations, fractures, meniscus and intervertebral discs injury and so on.

Sprains of muscles, ligaments and sinews are widespread injuries in rhythmic gymnastics. Inguinal and hamstring muscles are often injured.

It is recommended to spend more time for everyday stretching in order to prevent or decrease these injuries (even if all the rules are followed, nobody is perfect). Warmed muscles are less subjected to the injury even if a gymnast does awkward movements.

Knee injuries are mainly connected with spring ability of gymnasts. Demonstration of strength, which only male dancers have (there is a showy landing on the knee in Georgian national dance), has become normal for almost every gymnast. However, we should remember that this spring ability is not available for every girl. And if Alina Kabaeva made this element with absolute easiness, it doesn’t mean that every gymnast can spring in the same way.

Moreover, knee injuries can be caused while doing grand jete. Valgus loading that appears in the moment of landing after such spring can lead to the ileo-sacrum joint injury. In this case, sportsmen and dancers usually undergo surgery and not all of them can proceed their career afterwards.

Preventive measures can be taken while doing this element. Gymnast should concentrate her attention in the moment of spring and do minimum rotations after that.

Ankle-joint injuries are connected with foot inversion. It happens very often. Treatment includes rest and retentive bandage on the injury place, which ease pain and edema. Ankle-joint injuries are dangerous as they could relapse.

Besides severe ankle injuries, there could be chronic diseases such as tendinitis (dystrophy of sinew tissue with repeated inflammation) and “tired fracture” (microcrack in ankle caused by constant loading).

Foot injuries are caused by constant landing from “spring” equipment; they are often accompanied by skin problems.

More time should be devoted to stretching exercises, which prepare all the muscle groups for complicated gymnastics elements. It is also important to follow the training schedule: do not overwork as it leads to general fatigue, low attention concentration and as a result to the increase of injuries.

Take care!

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