Cheerleading Injuries

July 7, 2014

Cheerleading injuries are on the rise. For this reason, it is important that administrators, parents, coaches, and medical personnel recognize that cheerleaders must received appropriate medical attention just like any other athlete.

Shields and Smith noted that from 1990-2003 cheerleading saw an increase in participation from 3.04 million to 3.58 million while also seeing a 110% increase in injuries. Cheerleaders suffer many different injuries including sprains and strains, but can also suffer broken bones and even more serious injuries. Approximately 65% of catastrophic injuries in female high school athletics have been attributed to cheerleading. Why is that? Read the rest of this entry »

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. David Geier asked me my thoughts after the American Medical Association declared cheerleading a sport. Here is my full answer to his question…


Is cheerleading a sport? Ask me that 5 years ago and I probably would have laughed in your face. Today, however, I have a much greater respect for cheerleading. Personally I would agree with the roughly 30 state associations who now consider it a sport however that designation is not clear in all cases nor shall we construe that the designation as a sport provides specific safety requirements as proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. David Geier posed this question to me last week. The American Medical Association has decided to take the stance that cheerleading should in fact be considered a sport. As you’ll see reading Dr. Geier’s article, this stance is very similar to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012. So, what was my answer?

Check out his article…

The Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association requires medical staff to be onsite for competitions. The National Cheer Association requires medical staff onsite for camps and clinics. But the research has shown cheerleading injuries are relatively low compared to other sports. Why is it these groups value proper medical staffing but other athletic associations do not? #AT4ALL#SportsSafety

Over the course of the last 9 months, I have spent significant time researching two topics: Cheerleading injuries and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This has culminated in my Capstone Project with the above title. Today I’m pleased to share with you my project. I would certainly be remiss if I did not thank the cheerleaders at Waterloo High School and their coach Amber Hensiek, my mentors Ashley Rockey and Dr. Carlen Mulholland, and the program director at the University of South Florida Dr. Rebecca Lopez. Without all of their help, this project would not have been possible. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability!


Injury prevention is a mainstay in the athletic training profession and something that we attempt to achieve on a daily basis. Identifying exactly why and how the injury rates can be improved must be a priority. National injury surveillance programs have been developed that help researchers to track these injury rates if that sport is included in the particular interests of the study.

Cheerleading has long fought to be recognized as a sport, which caused it to be excluded from national sports injury surveillance programs for many years. Additionally, rules and regulations have long lagged behind the sport itself in terms of safety. There are national associations such as the National Cheer Safety Foundation and the National Cheer Association who have attempted to improve the safety of the sport, but much work remains. Cheerleading is no longer the cheerleading mothers and grandmothers grew up with girls on the sideline leading the cheers of victory. Instead, the sport has become a competitive activity with similarities to gymnastics combined with team spirit1. Many cheerleaders were at one time gymnasts and these girls have brought those skills and experiences to the cheerleading competition mat. Competitive cheer and gymnastics share many risks and rewards. One of these risks is the increased opportunity for serious injury. Absent serious injury, cheerleading also causes numerous less severe injuries such as sprains and strains on a regular basis. It has been noted that while cheerleaders do not suffer injuries at the same rate as other athletes, the percentage of catastrophic injury is much higher than other female sports at the high school level1,2.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can download the paper FinalDraftCapstone.

Read the rest of this entry »


February 1, 2013

This morning the Illinois High School Association will host its preliminary round of the state championship in competitive cheerleading. The Bulldogs’ cheerleaders took off yesterday afternoon for Bloomington to compete for the first time! These girls have worked long and hard to get here this weekend. By now the girls are up and moving at the competition site. I want to wish them the best of luck! (And be safe!!!) 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

Cheerleading continues to increase in numbers, and consequently injuries are also on the rise. The injury rate of cheerleading is relatively low, however it does account for around 2/3 of catastrophic injuries in female high school athletes. It is thought that the increase of cheerleading injuries is related to the transition the activity has made from being on the sidelines of football and basketball games into a competitive activity of its own. In just a 13 year period, cheerleading increased in numbers from 600,000 in 1990 to over 3million participants in 2003! Read the rest of this entry »

The Hidden Injury: A Concussion Series


For more information about this series, go here!

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. Read the rest of this entry »

This blog post was initially posted over at TheConcussionBlog. It has been a popular topic over there so I want to help spread the word on this topic…


When most people think about concussions they only allow one sport to enter their mind: football.  As we have documented numerous times before, football is just one of the many athletic activities that put athletes at risk for sustaining a concussion. Much of the general public thinks that the male athletes are the only ones suffering concussions, though that is not the case whatsoever; females are just as susceptible.  According to Dr. Comstock, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, girls suffer concussions at a higher rate than males. Read the rest of this entry »

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