Cheerleading Injuries

February 9, 2012

This weekend teams from across the state of Illinois will be competing at the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association’s state championships. The girls from Freeburg Community High School will be competing and I want to wish them the best of luck! Be safe out there and Let’s Go Midgets!

Many sports are known for their injuries and I think if you were to ask most people they would tell you that football is obviously the most injured sport. Soccer is a girls’ sport that has a high incidence of injury and I would also include gymnastics as well. One sport that many do not consider (incorrectly) is cheerleading.

People think cheerleading is all about glitz and glamour and I can’t say that there isn’t plenty of that, but cheerleading is a tough sport. It really does not get the credit it deserves when it comes to difficulty and risk of injury.

Recently, there was an incident at Michigan State where a cheerleader fell from the top of a pyramid and injured her teammate. That teammate was taken off with her head and neck immobilized as a precaution to rule out a cervical spine injury. She ended up suffering a concussion, but luckily no neck injury to go along with it.

Cheerleader taken off the floor after a fall.

That is just one example of injuries seen in cheerleading. I could go on with several more I’m sure, but realize that serious injuries can definitely come from cheerleading.

First of all, concussions are a common injury in the sport which I think many people are going to find surprising. But think about it for a second: when the girls are getting lifted up into the air both the flyer and the bases are at risk of injury. The flyer is up in the air and is relying on her teammates to keep her in the air. Her teammates, meanwhile, have the flyer’s feet right in front of their faces which means they could easily get kicked. Then when it is time to come down, the flyer is relying on her teammates catching her so she doesn’t hit the ground. Sometimes that goes wrong and she will land onto the floor.

In addition, tumbling is another way for a cheerleader to suffer a concussion. If she does not land correctly, she could easily hit her head on the floor. Tumbling can also lead to a host of other injuries as well. Anything from wrist sprains, to shoulder injuries, and to knee and ankle injuries.

I would venture to say that even with as many traumatic injuries that occur in cheerleading (head injuries, fractures, etc) the majority of injuries are more of the over-use variety. That’s not to say that this is a sport that should be taken lightly because every time those girls go out on the floor there is a chance of serious injury. The problem that I see is one I see with most sports—we as a society have become sports-crazed and we start the kids at a young age. They do it repetitively and guess what, an overuse injury occurs. Some of those injuries are nagging things that will bug them for many years to come. Many of the injuries I’ve seen with my cheerleaders this year have been overuse injuries or they have been injuries that were not properly taken care of when they occurred and so now they are re-occurring issues.

Think about that the next time you’re at a game. Yes, those cheerleaders are there having fun (hopefully) and you may wonder how hard it is (really!). Think about the fact that they do things many of us would never consider and the injury potential is great…


Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer


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