Cheerleading and dance are two physically demanding sports that require flexibility, strength, and coordination. As with any sport, there is a risk of injury, and unfortunately, cheerleading and dance have some of the highest injury rates among young athletes. Athletes in these sports are at high risk of developing various injuries that can lead to long-term health issues.
At Michael Rytel M.D. Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, we provide top-quality care for athletes of all sports and ages to get you back to peak performance condition.
Here are the top 5 dance and cheerleading-related injuries
Concussions are among the most serious injuries that cheerleaders and dancers can experience. These head injuries occur when there is a blow to the head, causing the brain to bounce or twist within the skull. In cheerleading and dance, concussions typically result from falls or collisions with teammates or equipment. As athletes in these sports perform high-energy moves, the risks of sustaining a concussion increase, particularly in stunts and jumps like pyramids and basket tosses.
Symptoms of a concussion can vary depending on the severity of the injury but may include headaches, nausea, confusion, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and difficulty concentrating. If left untreated, concussions can be a serious injury and can cause long-term damage to the brain, affecting memory, balance, and cognitive function. To prevent concussions and head injury, athletes should always wear proper protective gear, such as helmets and headbands, cheerleading coaches should always be present, and athletes should be trained in proper techniques for stunts and jumps.
If an athlete suspects they might have a concussion, it's essential to seek immediate medical attention and rest until symptoms have subsided. With proper prevention and care, cheerleaders and dancers can stay safe, healthy, and continue to enjoy their sport to the fullest.
2. Wrist and Ankle Sprains
Wrist and ankle sprains are also common injuries that dancers and cheerleaders can encounter. These injuries usually happen when a person falls or lands awkwardly, causing the wrist or ankle to twist or bend unnaturally. In cheerleading injuries, wrist sprains are most common, usually occurring during tumbling sequences, landing a jump awkwardly, overuse injuries, or when landing from a stunt on one or both hands. Ankle sprains, on the other hand, are common in both cheerleading and dance due to the high amount of jumping and quick changes in direction.
Symptoms of a sprained wrist or ankle include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion, all of which can significantly impact an athlete's ability to perform. Treatment options for a sprained wrist or ankle may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation, as well as physical therapy to help restore strength and flexibility in the injured area. Athletes should take the necessary steps to prevent these injuries by performing proper stretching and warm-up exercises before each practice or performance. Additionally, the use of ankle braces and wrist guards can provide additional support and protection.
It is essential for athletes to take the required length of time to heal from an ankle or wrist sprain before returning to sports to prevent reinjury. By taking preventative measures and seeking treatment immediately after the injury, athletes can continue to pursue their passion without interruptions from avoidable injuries.
3. Muscle Strains
Muscle strains are a prevalent injury in cheerleading and dance. These types of injuries can occur when dancers or cheerleaders overexert themselves during training, practice or performance, leading to the muscles becoming overworked and stretched beyond their limits. Strains are more common in the lower extremities, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, which are responsible for jumping and lifting movements.
Symptoms of a muscle strain may include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the affected area. To avoid muscle strains, it's important for athletes to follow proper warm-up and stretching routines before practice or performance, limit-pushing beyond the athletes' ability levels during practice, and slowly increase the intensity and difficulty of movements over time. Treatment options for a muscle strain may include the use of ice or heat therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, and physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the affected muscles.
With time and rest, most muscle strains will heal, and athletes can return to cheerleading or dance with the newfound knowledge of the importance of stretching and taking care of themselves while engaging in these sports.
Fractures are one of the most severe injuries that cheerleaders and dancers can experience. Fractures occur when there is a break in the bone from exposure to a significant force, such as a fall or collision. Cheerleaders and dancers are at high risk of fractures of the lower extremity due to the frequent lifting, jumping, and tumbling activities performed during practice and competition. The most common areas that can experience fractures include the wrists, ankles, and feet.
Symptoms of a fracture may include severe pain, swelling, and loss of mobility in the affected area. Immediate medical attention is necessary to correctly diagnose and treat a fracture. Treatment for a fracture may include immobilization with a cast or brace, physical therapy, or surgical intervention. Due to the injuries sustained, recovery time can take several weeks or even months, and athletes will need to avoid competing or practicing until fully healed.
Proper training, techniques, and preventative measures such as the use of protective gear, can go a long way in preventing fracture injuries in cheerleading and dance. By taking preventative steps, athletes can prevent injuries and continue to pursue their passion for cheerleading and dance safely.
Tendonitis is a prevalent injury in dancing and cheerleading. It happens when the tendons, the fibrous cords that connect the muscles to the bones, become inflamed or irritated. The repetitive motions found in cheerleading and dancing, such as jumping and landing, kicks, and turns, can cause the tendons to become overworked and inflamed. The most common areas that are affected are the Achilles tendon and the rotator cuff joint in the shoulder. Athletes that participate in such sports are required to exert a lot of force on their joints and repetitive motions, which can make them more susceptible to tendonitis.
Symptoms of this injury include pain, discomfort, and stiffness in the affected area, which can significantly impact an athlete's performance. Treatment options may involve rest, applying ice to reduce inflammation, using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, or physical therapy to improve flexibility and strengthen the affected area. It is crucial to take preventative measures such as warming up adequately and cooling down after activity to minimize the risk of getting tendonitis.
By seeking early medical attention and following proper preventative measures following an injury, athletes can reduce the risk of injury and stay healthy while pursuing their athletic passion and goals.
If you are suffering from a sports-related injury, contact board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Michael Rytel at Michael Rytel M.D. Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine for personalized care to get you back to the sport you love. Schedule a free consultation directly from our website today!