Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Cheerleading has undergone some dramatic changes over the last few decades. Once considered an after-school activity, cheerleading has evolved to a full sport in its own right. Highly developed athletic programs have propelled cheerleading forward into the competitive arena. As competition and skill increases, so does risk of injury.
“As with any other athlete,” writes the National Athletic Trainers’ Association in a new infographic, “cheerleaders face injury concerns, especially musculoskeletal injuries and those related to overuse since the cheer season tends to be year-round.” Let’s take a closer look at NATA’s recommendations for cheer safety…
- Skills Progression: Learn proper positions and techniques. Demonstrate competency in basic skills before moving on to more advanced moves.
- Coach Certification: Practice under certified coaches. Several programs exist for the purpose of training coaches, providing them with the knowledge they need to keep athletes safe. Programs include: U.S. All Star Federation, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
- Rules and Regulations: Acquaint yourself with new rules and regulations in cheer. For example, governing bodies such as USA Cheer and AACCA constantly review existing rules and regulations, making adjustments to reduce risk of injuries. These organizations may increase spotter requirements, update surface restrictions, or rule against certain skills (e.g. the removal of double twisting mounts).
- Access to Medical Care: Ensure adequate access to medical care.
Cheer Fast Facts
- Approximately 400,000 students participate in high school cheerleading annually, with 123,386 involved in competitive spirit squads.
- According to a National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, injury rates in cheerleading rank 18th out of 22 sports, with an overall injury rate of 0.71 injuries per 1,000 athlete-exposures.
- In 2014, there were fewer emergency room visits for girls ages 14 to 18 for cheerleading (21,831) than girls’ basketball (47,113), soccer (37,193) and softball (27,940).
- More spirit coaches than any other coaches have taken the AACCA certification course. Currently, 20,000 coaches have completed the AACCA Spirit Safety Certification course with nearly 5,000 coaches completing the course in 2015.
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For any Houston sports medicine needs, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.