Cheerleaders are athletes who can benefit from chiropractic care.
Cheerleader Stunts and Injuries
Cheerleading can cause nearly as many injuries in high school and college as football. Cheerleaders combine dance, gymnastics, and stunts, and they perform year-round, which leaves little time for recovery. Most cheerleading injuries are from repetitive or overuse activities, including “plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, ankle sprains, stress fractures, hip strains, and inflammation around the hips”. It is actually the gymnastics portion of cheerleading that contributes most to overuse. The lower back is often hyperextended from back flips, back bends, back handsprings, and standing. The shoes generally don’t provide enough support or shock absorption. Knee injuries are also common, due to the shoes, stunts, and landing “tumbling maneuvers”. Cheerleaders also often suffer from overuse of the elbows, shoulders, and wrists, especially for those “at the base of the partner stunts”. It is the partner stunts that could lead to “catastrophic injury”, particularly for those at the top of the pyramids, due to the falls. Dislocations, fractures, head trauma, broken vertebra, and paralysis are all possible outcomes.1
Some injuries can be prevented, such as setting stunt restrictions. Some ideas for making stunts safer would be to limit pyramid height, increase the number of spotters, and to change the “thrower-flyer ratio”. Injured or ill cheerleaders should not engage in stunts, and mats should be used as often as possible. Some training in safety should also be included in the sport. Coaches should be certified. Stunts shouldn’t be performed in inclement weather or without proper training. Cheerleaders should only engage in stunts in which they feel confident, and proper supervision needs to be required. Physical conditioning can also prevent injuries, such as ensuring athletes engage in yoga, Pilates, or stretching for flexibility, resistance exercises for strength, and making sure cheerleaders do not perform when injured.2
Athletes in basketball and football have well-publicized injuries, and many elite and Olympic athletes have sought chiropractic treatment for their training and recovery. Like other athletes, cheerleaders have their share of injuries and work to perform at their best. Of course, during an acute injury, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) can be utilized.3 Chiropractic is effective for many sports injuries. Professional cheerleaders often seek chiropractic care, as it is safe, non-invasive, and effective for many of the injuries, such as pulled hamstrings and lower back pain.4 Tight hamstrings are a common cheerleader complaint, and chiropractors can offer treatment such as the Cox Technic, exercises, stretches, and even nutritional advice.5 Chiropractic care may help prevent future degenerative issues by decreasing the “extensive wear and tear on (the) bodies”.6 Aside from pain relief, chiropractic treatments could also help “athletes maintain better balance and body control”.7
Learn about athletes and massage.