The Importance of Physio When Treating Youth Gymnastic Injuries

Jun 16, 2016

Unfortunately, no matter how in-shape a gymnast is, overuse and traumatic injuries are fairly common. Since the large majority of gymnasts are younger in age, youth-related injuries can lead to growth issues. Our physio’s not only help gymnasts with injuries, but also help prevent future complications.

If you or your children are currently gymnasts, it’s important to be aware of potential injuries and what that means for overall development. Perhaps an injury has already occurred, but is not healing as expected? Whatever the scenario, a professional physiotherapist will help discover the cause of any associated pain and discomfort – implementing an effective treatment plan.

As a Gymnast, What Injuries Are You At Risk For?

There’s no doubt that gymnasts are in great shape, however, that does not protect them against overstrain and trauma-related injuries. Based on the nature of gymnastics, a gymnast’s extremities are at a particularly high risk of injury. These unexpected incidents can lead to long-term complications.

Both wrist pain and strains are the most common injuries among gymnasts we see here at Best Body, due to overuse and impact. In some cases, this develops into elbow or shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff challenges. If you have developed a shoulder injury, surgery is not your only option.

Within a review, published in the Journal of Athletic Training, it was stated that among athletes, rotator cuff and impingement injuries are not only common, but the majority of cases can be treated in a non-operative manner. This is critical, simply due to training-associated risk factors.

Based on a 2010 study, published in Physical Therapy in Sport, seventy-three acrobatic gymnasts, aged 8-26 years old were surveyed. What they found, was that 50.7 percent of the participants had experienced an injury in the past 12 months — with 28.8 percent experiencing a chronic injury at the time of the study.

The average age of onset for acute injury was 13.9 years old, whereas chronic injuries exhibited an average age onset of 14.7. The most common injury sites were the ankle, wrist, and knee. It was concluded that gymnasts between the ages of 11-15 years old, experience a high occurrence of injury, potentially due to the adolescent growth spurt – increasing vulnerability, due to excessive training.

Why Adolescent Gymnasts Need to Be Cautious

Although teenagers are full of energy and enthusiasm, it’s important to be aware of their current state of development. It’s clear that adolescent gymnasts are suffering from a range of injuries, but what does this mean for their overall well-being and growth? Based on a 2008 study, there are most certainly concerns.

After studying 125 gymnast patients, between the ages of 12 and 16, researchers found that physical stress may hinder development. In gymnastics, excessive amounts of stress are placed on joints, potentially causing long-term effects. It’s believed that damage to the radial growth plates, could result in distortion and deformity.

After reviewing all wrist and hand images, researchers were surprised to see the true magnitude of the injuries experienced by these adolescents. Injuries started in the radius – a bone in the forearm, but were also apparent within the wrist and finger bones. It’s concerning that these injuries could essentially develop into early osteoporosis.

How Best Body Physio & Pilates Can Help

If an injury has occurred, our Physio’s will help determine whether or not an individual needs to modify their training loads. In some cases, individuals will experience minor, but persistent low back pain. It’s important that both parents and coaches are aware that these symptoms can often be treated, reducing the risk of future complications.

When ankle sprains occur, it was once critical that initial RICE was implemented – rest, ice, compression, elevation. Now there is a new protocol called PEACE and LOVE (click here for full article on it). As soon as possible, you should see a qualified physiotherapist. Physiotherapy techniques will help to speed up and optimise the healing process, while preventing recurring injuries.

From wrist injuries to knee pain, our Physio’s can help address a wide range of symptoms and concerns. More importantly, physiotherapy acts as a preventative measure. Our assessments for gymnasts can help competitive gymnasts better understand their current physical state. By determining how their 9 forces are going, the forces that influence pain and injuries, as well as peak performance.

If done right, gymnastics can have life long benefits!

To book in for an Initial Physio Assessment, call us today on 92727359.