Physiotherapy for gymnastics injuries
On May 5, 1988, Japanese news channels caught an accident on live television. Julissa Gomez from San Antonio, Texas, was warming up for the finals in the Moscow Olympics. On a practice run, as she raced toward the vault, her foot slipped off the springboard. This caused her to slam headfirst at the vaulting horse at high speed. This left her quadriplegic. She was sixteen. Gymnastics injuries can be very serious.
The incident proved fatal for the rising star, and she died three years later. Her colleagues have commented often on how the particular vault she was attempting had been giving her trouble prior to the accident. This incident sparked a major change in how women’s Gymnastics was conducted further in the future. The technique of vaulting, itself, was made more safe and secure.
Oftentimes, thankfully, sports injuries do not prove fatal for people. Most gymnasts, however, suffer from repetitive injuries in their bodies that might lead them unable to perform. This could also be true in Gomez’s case, as she was noted to be having problems prior to the accident. A hidden injury can lead to accidents, and thus, must be avoided.
What injuries prevail in gymnastics?
Gymnastics places a large amount of stress on the joints and the torso. Gymnastics injuries can come from any part of the body. They require a lot of strength in their arms and their torsos. Gymnasts suffer from three most common types of injuries. These are acute injuries, overstrain injuries and overuse injuries.
Acute injuries happen instantaneously. These are traumatic injuries, caused by a singular unexpected accident. In an acute injury, a large amount of stress acts on a particular muscle or joint, causing it to tear. These injuries can be treated with medication, of course. But with new ultrasound technology in physiotherapy treatment, acute injuries can be treated more efficiently.
Overstrain and overuse injuries can be defined interchangeably. Overuse injuries occur, as the name suggests when a body part has been made to work beyond its capacity. The human body is capable of sustaining a large amount of force and stress. Repetitive strain injuries are some of the most common overuse injuries. TENS treatment in the physiotherapy realm can assist with these cases. Electrical Stimulation is also of help in these physical matters. Most physiotherapy clinics, like Pillars of Wellness in Burlington, often treat such injuries with these modalities.
Common areas of effect
Competitive gymnastics makes it common for those aged under thirteen to be doing rigorous exercise. At this age, the body is young and very flexible. This is why Olympic gymnasts start early. As mentioned above, a gymnast needs to take care of every part of their body. Any part of the body may be at risk. With gymnastics like vaulting, for example, the gymnast has to hold the weight of their whole body at times with their hands. This requires arm strength, and always puts a strain on the wrist. This leads to repetitive stress injuries and even fractures.
Some of the most common injuries suffered by gymnasts are as follows:
- Hand and finger injuries, with wrist fractures
- Shoulder sprains and tears
- ACL tears, which are tears in relation to the tibia and the thighbone
- Ankle sprains, tears in the Achilles tendon, and knee pain
- Burners and stingers
- Lower back pain and spinal damage
- Cartilage damage
These injuries occur mostly by repetitive action, or if a landing is not done right, or due to misplacing a step on the equipment. Most of these, however, can be treated by innovative physiotherapy treatment which we will now discuss further.
Physiotherapy for gymnasts
Gymnastics also has a place in a study conducted by the Canadian Community Health Survey. 66% of all the injuries were related to sports. Which means two in every three injuries was sports-related. A majority of the population who suffered these injuries were children.
It might seem that the sport is too dangerous, but that is not the case. The advent of competitive gymnastics has been present in the world since Ancient Egyptian times. Gymnasts develop a large amount of balance and body awareness unparalleled by any other sport. With the proper training and exercise, they can maintain very healthy bodies all through their lives.
Apart from that, a great tool in the gymnast’s health kit is physiotherapy treatment. The main causes of gymnastics injuries are related to the body’s lack of flexibility, poor balance, or insufficient strength in the arms, legs or the core. These three are fundamental for a sport like this. Physiotherapy treatment works because it caters to improving the body’s efficiency. The treatment works so well with a sport such as gymnastics because it does not only treat injury, it also helps the body prevent further injury. Three very successful treatment modalities are:
- Ultrasound: This treatment helps with excessive bruising in injuries, used to dissolve blood clots and give the body a better fighting chance. It helps relieve pain faster. Knee pain, lower back pain, rotator cuff syndrome, and epicondylitis are treated with this.
- E-Stim: Electrical Stimulation is a way of sparking nerves inside the body’s epidermis, making the process faster.
- TENS: TENS machines work similarly to E-Stim, providing a modest amount of relief after an injury.
Heat therapy and cryotherapy are used interchangeably in order to speed up the process. With a combination of these therapies, gymnasts suffering from acute or overuse injuries are able to return to their prime. What is important is to continue physiotherapy exercises and treatment.
Many gymnastics injuries get worse because gymnasts do not visit a physician or get proper treatment. With innovation in the field of physiotherapy, there is a great chance of improvement of the balance and core strength of the individual. With expert care and physiotherapy treatment, there is nothing that can stop the human body from excelling.