Like many other types of athletes
, cheerleaders can over-work their bodies and shorten their athletic career. Jumping, stunting, and tumbling take a toll on a cheerleader's body! Some cheerleaders only in their teens find themselves unable to do certain stunts because of a prior injury.
Follow our tips to help extend your cheerleading years:
- Always Stretch. No Exceptions
While you stretch before practice and performing routines, you should also stretch before the simplest of exercises. Performing a herkie to show your parents? Stretch beforehand. Going for a short jog around the block? Stretch first. It doesn't matter how little you think you're doing, you can still easily pull something. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
- Don't Push Yourself Too Hard
To a certain extent, you should always push yourself to do a little better each time. But that doesn't mean exhausting yourself. If you're tired, you should rest. Take a water break and try a few deep breathing exercises. If you keep going, you'll eventually trip or fall.
- Know When to Say No
There's trying a new stunt and then there's taking risks. Think you can do four back handsprings in a row when you normally only do three? Take a minute and think about whether or not you're ready. Just because one of your teammates can do it, doesn't mean you're ready to do it. If you don't feel ready to do something, talk to your coach about your hesitation. Your coach can either have someone spot you or walk you through the motions.
- Take Safety Seriously
Cheerleading-related injuries are no laughing matter. Never assume that what you're doing can't result in a serious injury. You'd be surprised how a minor tweak or sprain can bench you for an entire season or limit your cheering abilities for years. Don't tumble or stunt on hard surfaces without spotters. If you do fall, don't immediately stand up and return to your routine. Give yourself a moment to recover and report any and all aches and pains, no matter how minor. If you are injured or have a concussion, talk to your doctor and coach about when it is safe to return.
- Take the Weather Into Consideration
Extreme temperatures can take a toll on your body and cheer skills. You can greatly reduce your risks of injury just by dressing correctly. When it's hot outside, look for practice wear that absorbs sweat or is lightweight and breathable. Take plenty of water breaks and know the signs of heat stroke. When it's cold out, take extra time to stretch and warm up to make sure your muscles are ready to go. If you stand around too long in the cold, warm up and stretch again before performing. When you're not performing, keep your muscles warm and wear warm-ups and other cold weather accessories. If you're in a very cold climate, consider wearing leg warmers and gloves in between performances and cheers.
While we can't guarantee a lifelong cheer career, we can tell you that by focusing on your safety, you can extend your cheer career and prevent injuries.
What are your tips for preventing injuries and staying safe?