Stress Fractures in Gymnasts

Another gymnast with stress fractures… So sad!

This is the third gymnast that I have seen with stress fractures within the past few months. And I am sure there are many more out there.

I wish these coaches would learn when to push and when to slow things down. Some only know how to push their athletes hard, but do not know when to slow it down. Many are great coaches, but many really do not know how to communicate with gymnasts regarding injuries. As a result, the pain and injuries become worse and healing time becomes longer. No one is happy by that point.

And unfortunately, some coaches see gymnasts as a commodity, NOT as children! They see them as something that will bring in more business when they win at competitions or go off to a great college on scholarship. The competitive gymnasts often make the reputation for the program.

I owned a gymnastics club for ten years, have been coaching since 1978, and have NEVER had a gymnast with a stress fracture. (I’ve been hired in the past to help gyms REDUCE injuries.) My level 6-10 gymnasts trained 24 hours a week and it was nonstop movement in the gym with the exception of water breaks. They progressed rapidly and remained healthy. If I was capable of producing healthy gymnasts so is EVERY other coach out there.

The rule that can be followed is if 3 out of 10 gymnasts, 30%, have pain the the same general area of the body (ankles/feet, wrists/hands, back) the program must be changed. It may be something simple such as a few less push ups or adding a sting mat. Or something drastic may need to be done such as buying new spring beams or more resilient mats. Coaches MUST be more aware and conscientious when training gymnasts. Again, there are so many amazing coaches out there, but there are still too many that are not in tune with what is happening to their gymnasts.

Coaches, please… listen to your gymnasts when they mention pain and discuss it with their parents. It’s better to deal with an injury BEFORE it becomes serious. And it’s better to deal with it completely than to force the gymnast to return to full training too soon.

I am a CSCS AND a gymnastics coach. Parents call me to help their children (gymnasts) regain strength and return to competition after the injures. If you are a parent or coach and need help please reach out to me, 908-278-3756. We all want what is best for the gymnast!

Some reading on stress fractures…

Bony stress reactions and stress fractures are very common in Sports Medicine.  They are considered overuse injuries and usually occur when the amount or intensity of an activity is increased too rapidly.  Initially the involved muscles become fatigued and lose the ability to absorb shock.  This subsequently transfers the load of stress onto the bones, causing injury within their internal structure.https://www.rothmaninstitute.com/specialties/conditions/stress-fractures7

Stress fractures often result from increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too quickly.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stress-fractures/symptoms-causes/dxc-20232156

A stress fracture is an overuse injury. It occurs when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing a tiny crack called a stress fracture.” http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00112

They also affect people with weak bones or nutritional deficiencies, and can happen in the foot, leg, spine, arm, ribs, and other bony locations.” http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/stress-fractures.html

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/stress-fractures-the-basics

 

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