Injuries are probably the worst thing an athlete can experience, but most of us go through them from time to time. In fact, cheerleading has been named the most dangerous sport for girls because of the high amounts of injuries. Hopefully, you will experience little to no injuries, but, since they are unavoidable at times, here are five things you should know about them:
- They are (often) preventable. While many major injuries may happen from accidents that are beyond your control, you can (and should!) make sure safety standards are in place to reduce risks. Don’t stunt or tumble in situations you don’t feel safe in. However, most of the injuries you will encounter throughout your cheer career are less serious, but still frustrating, ones that you can takes steps to prevent.
- You can't ignore them. How you care for an injury can determine the severity of it and whether it has a lasting impact on you and your athletic career. For example, an ankle sprain is a common and non-major injury. However, if you don’t ice it immediately and often, it will most likely swell a lot more and bother you for at least twice as long. Plus, as uncomfortable as it is, you really should try to move your ankle around as soon as possible, like within a few days of the injury. If you just let it sit there and don’t move it at all, it could heal that way and you could have tightness and limited mobility in your ankle long term. You couldn’t possibly know how to best handle every injury, but the important thing is to seek advice from someone who does know about injuries like a coach, trainer, or doctor.
- They don’t have to keep you from the team. Being a good teammate is about much more than the physical skills you bring to the team. You can still be a huge asset to the team while you’re recovering. One of the best ways to do this is to keep showing up. Go to practice even if you have to sit on the sidelines with your injury wrapped, elevated, and iced. This will keep you from missing out on what the team is learning and show your teammates that you are dedicated.
- Returning from injuries too soon is a bad idea. Coming back to full capacity when you aren’t fully ready to—and even continuing to cheer through an injury—may sound like a good, tough thing to do. The reality is this is hurting, not helping, your team. Your team needs you to be at your best. This means doing what you need to do to recover and not coming back when you aren’t yet ready. When you do return to regular cheering, you should still take precautions by wrapping the injured area for more support, warming it up before practice with a heating pad or a longer aerobic warmup, and icing it after practice to prevent swelling.
- Coming back from injuries requires mental strength. Even after you are cleared to return to cheer, you might feel hesitant. The mental aspect of injuries is something that often gets overlooked, but you will most likely experience it if you haven’t already. You might be reluctant to trust your ankle or wrist or whatever body part was injured, and thus hesitant to put your full weight on it. You will get more confident as time goes on, but don’t be discouraged if you have to work to get over this mental block. It is a normal part of the process. Talking to your coach, trainers, doctor, or teammates can help give you the support and confidence you need to make a full comeback.
Have you ever had an injury? What helped you recover?
The writers and editors of this blog are not doctors. This information is based on research and common knowledge. Always consult a doctor if you have any concerns.