Recreational Injury Interventions

Gymnastics

Background

Gymanstics has risen in popularity over the past 20 years. At present, the majority of competitive participants are children. The amount of impact applied to the body is relatively high when compared to other childhood sport and recreational activities. Frequent high impact loading occurs in both gymnastics training and competition. Elite gymnasts start training as early as 5 or 6 years of age, and train between 20 to 40 hours a week all year round, Daly et al, 2001. Additionally, the range and number of risk elements incorporated into gymnastics routines has increased substanially since 1970 as coaches and athletes increased the complexity of manuevers.

Most elite gymnasts do not pass through childhood and adolescence without injury, Daly et al, 2001. Furthermore, the risk of injury is directly proportional to practice time and the degree of difficulty of the routines. One study, Daly et al, 2001, reviewed the risk of injury in gymnastics and attempted to identify various risk factors and prevention interventions specific to this sport. To minimize the risk of injury and maximize performance Daly et al, 2001 suggest that coaches, parents, and health professionals who work with young gymnasts need to be educated and aware if safe gymnastic practices and prevention interventions.

There is a lack of randomized controlled trials that evaluate gymnastic injury prevention. However, Daly et al, 2001 reports several recommendations based on their review which are listed below. Physical conditioning programs including strength training, warm-up, stretching, cool down, testing of equipment and landing surfaces for load distribution, development of dowel grips and hand guards, biomechanical mechanisms of injury, the role of education and spotting, and the role of health care professionals are all suggested as directions for future research within the area of gymnastics and injury prevention.

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