Starting a new sport is always a risk, but children who are beginning gymnastics for the first time have an even greater chance of injury. With some care and prevention strategies, you can help your child start a new sport without the typical injuries that can come from intensive gymnastics training. Here are some common injuries to watch for and what you can do to minimize the risk.
Wrist injuries are the most common in gymnasts, and they can even more pronounced in children. Essentially, a part of the wrist called the open growth plate can be easily injured when bones and tendons are still growing. Open growth plates allow for the bones to reach their mature height before the bones fully form, solidifying the final length of the bone. With the pressure of gymnastics training, this plate can suffer stress injuries and close prematurely while the other bones in the wrists and hands continue to widen and lengthen. Your child will experience wrist pain and be at greater risk for stress fractures and tearing if this happens.
Since stress injuries are usually caused by doing too much too soon, the best way to prevent this injury is to start slow and steady in gymnastics. If your child is a little older than other beginners, they might be eager to move through the early training steps in order to catch up with peers. Do your best to remind your child that slow and steady is the best way to prevent injury and improve wrist performance.
Ankle sprains are a common injury, although most of the time, they are not serious. It is important to remember, however, that a sprained ankle still needs to be fully recovered before more gymnastics work can continue. Many eager children decide that just because they are feeling better, it's time to hit the ground running again. As a parent, you need to be sure you follow the advice of your sports medicine orthopedist and stay off sprains until they have healed completely. Continuing to train without proper rest can lead to more serious injuries, especially in children who are still learning to land, fall, and move through actions with correct form. Incorrect landings are another cause of ankle injuries in children -- the Achilles' tendon can be stressed and caused heel pain.
Be sure that you check with your doctor regularly as your child enters the world of competitive gymnastics. Regular check-ups, slow and steady training, and proper treatment of even slight injuries can make a world of difference in achieving healthy success in this sport.
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