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Nature is the method of rehabilitation for rhythmic gymnasts

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By Oleg Vasiliev, "Gymnastics" Magazine

Summer is traditionally supposed to be a period when it’s necessary to allow time for young gymnasts’ rehabilitation after the heavy loads they carried during the gymnastics season. There’s no use to hope for progress in next training season without the correct rehabilitation course. Please, pay attention to the word “correct”. As many parents understand how important to take their little gymnasts to outdoor recreation (countryside, sea, hiking etc.). However, resting in the countryside at granny’s place children go for a walk, play and…gain weight because of poor diet. Recreation doesn’t mean a passive way to reduce the load, but the planned course, and everybody can plan it, as it’s not so difficult. The key principle of such rehabilitation is natural elements.

Mankind always used natural recourses for health promotion and rehabilitation from the ancient times – the sun’s energy, wind’s force, sea water’s property and even peculiarities of the landscape. Such ancient Aesculapians as Surshuta (father of Ayurveda), Hippocrates and Avicenna mentioned in their works early and not extant manuscripts describing the methods of using nature elements in the art of healing. 1000 years’ experience of the China medicine also confirms the effectiveness of these methods.

All the nature elements affect human organism in complex and it doesn’t depend on our desire. However we can dose or increase this nature’s influence.

We can’t change the salt content or temperature in water, wind’s strength, humidity, local climate and landscape peculiarities. However the sense of any rehabilitation program, based on the natural elements (water, land, air, sun), is in correct combination of them.

Sea shore. It can be sand, pebble, the gorge of big rocks and boulders. Walking on the dry sand, we feel our feet sinking and it creates the additional load for the ankle muscles. Feet sink less in the pebbles. However, walking on the pebbles has a restorative and at the same time relaxing effect for muscular-ligamentous apparatus of feet. Walking on the irregular stones makes massage for feet, but thigh muscles will apply force overcoming high rocks. This load reminds of step machine but it’s more functional and harmonic.

The temperature of the land is not equal and depends on the time of the day. After midday seashore is quite hot that it’s impossible to step on the sand or pebbles. Of course we can’t change the temperature, but we can consider the way of changes and use in our rehabilitation course. When sand or pebbles are warm, but not hot, in the morning, you can walk barefoot for a long time or even jog. In the second part of a day the shore ignites, so contrasting walk on the wet shore and short entries on the dry hot sand/pebbles are effective.

It’s necessary to define the main methods of the load – physical exercises. They depend on the interests and level of the gymnasts.

The following exercises are great for postural disorder and flat foot correction, for strengthening the arch of the foot also in order to proceed the professional training:

-          Walking

-          Jogging

-          Jumping (also with the rope)

-          Apparel throwing (rope, ball, clubs)

-          Rolling (in the tuck) on the sand/pebble (it can be hot)


Sea. For physical rehabilitation we can consider sea’s temperature, water density, barometric gradient of the waves (heaving of sea), barometric gradient while diving. Of course, we’ll consider insignificant barometric gradient – 1-2 of the grade. Recreational effect from physical exercises in water (especially in the sea) is well studied and successfully used in aqua-aerobics and aqua fitness.

Sea waves. What do the sea waves do? They periodically make the pressure higher as well as the level of the dipping for the person standing on the seafloor. So it makes massage thanks to the wave difference. Zones for “sea massage” can be regulated depending on the depth when the person enters the sea.

Walking on the seafloor knee-deep in water, not deeper, is useful for rehabilitation of the weak muscular-ligamentous apparatus of feet and ankles, including flat feet. That’s why physical exercises should be done at this depth. The most effective exercise is throwing gymnastics apparel (ball, hoop, clubs) standing or moving knee-deep in water. Mind that neither ball, nor hoop and clubs sink.

If you enter the sea deeper, then waves will massage your chest. And you’ll have to use all the muscles of the chest and loin in order to keep the balance while the waves are strong.

If you just swim, the waves load your body making your swimming difficult. That’s why ball games in water, intercepted with swimming and walking on the seafloor, turned out to be the most effective. We should also mention swimming on chest or back with the arms straight and holding the board (legs are crawling).

Barometric gradient while diving. You should learn to dive if you’d like to use it. We don’t talk about diving at the depth of 1.5-2 meters, as in this case a young gymnast should know the technique of “ears blowing”. Unfortunately, many children can’t dive at all, they can’t dip into the water with their head; or they just can’t do it in a correct way so that the water doesn’t penetrate into the nose. However, swimming starts from the teaching the basics of diving: make a deep breath-in and float breathing out all the air into the water slowly. As soon as you arrive at the sea you should teach the children how to dive and float. These are a simple safety procedures. You should also remember that the sea is not a swimming pool, so many swimming methods are ineffective here. First swimming skills are easier for a child with a goggle. And of course in this case you should teach your child how to use goggle correctly and how to breathe in mask.

Simple acrobatics elements (underwater flips, pirouettes etc.) are the most available exercises where the barometric gradient works. These exercises don’t require special equipment (goggles, flippers etc.) and it’s a good reason to play!

Don’t wash away the sea salt straight after you go out of the sea. Just dry your body with the towel, and you can take a fresh shower in the evening. It’s even more effective to go to sleep with the dry salt on the skin.

Loam. Loam masks have recreational complex effect on muscular-ligamentous apparatus. Loam is a great physiological stimulus, it produces tonic, microcirculatory, resolving and anti-inflammatory effect. Loam masks are good for the blocked muscles.

Don’t forget about exercises on relaxation and flexibility in the sea and on the shore. Do some exercises from yoga for children!

Have a nice gymnastics rest!

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