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Sports-Specific Injuries

With advanced cheerleading there is a risk of serious traumatic injuries and fractures due to falls. Jumping and landing can cause ankle and knee injuries. Wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries can occur from repetitive quick motions. Because cheerleaders are usually thin, they are at higher risk of eating disorders and stress fractures.

To prevent cheerleading injuries: General strengthening of the upper and lower body should be done two to three times a week. Stretching should be done daily to maintain flexibility. Balance training is helpful to prevent ankle sprains and falls.

The upper body is susceptible to injuries in climbing. Handholds can result in finger tendon injuries; tendinitis and nerve injuries can also occur from the strain and stretch of climbing holds. To prevent catastrophic injuries, climbing should never be done alone, and preferably with a very experienced climber. Wearing a helmet is recommended to prevent head injuries due to accidents or falling debris.

To prevent climbing injuries: Climbers should do general body strengthening two to three times weekly. Wrist-strengthening and balance exercises are excellent injury prevention measures. Learning proper technique and having working and correctly used equipment is crucial to safety and injury prevention.

Cycling often leads to repetitive motion injuries, particularly knee pain. Tendinitis of the knee, Achilles, and hip can occur. Nerve injuries can occur across the wrist and in the feet due to positioning and pressure on these areas. Neck pain is common and can occasionally be serious, with disc herniations leading to pinched nerves. Thigh and genital irritation can occur with long rides in the heat. Falls can lead to severe abrasions, fractures often to the collarbone, and head injuries.

To prevent cycling injuries: Always wear a helmet, and ride a bike appropriate for your size. Padded gloves can prevent hand pain. A comfortable or cut-out seat and padded shorts will protect the genital area. You should be extremely familiar with clicking in and out of cleats and know how to shift without looking down. Biking alone is not recommended; having a cell phone is an excellent idea in case of emergency. Because cycling is easy on most joints, correcting seat and bike alignment usually corrects pain in the knees, hips, or neck. Stretching in the opposite direction of the crouched cycling position should be done after riding with extension exercises (arched head, neck, and back) to improve posture. Yoga twice a week would be an excellent way to prevent posture problems and establish core strength and stability. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, or jogging with upper body strengthening should be done two to three times a week to protect bones.

Injuries vary between types of dance. In general, hip, lower leg, and back pain is most common due to a frequently arched back. Ankle, foot, and toe problems can result from en-pointe exercises. Poor turnout can lead to hip problems. Knees can be strained and cartilage torn from twisting, rotation, squatting, jumping, and landing, resulting in knee, foot, and ankle tendinitis. Stress fractures and dancers fractures (foot) can also occur, especially in thin dancers who also are at risk of eating disorders.

To prevent dance injuries: Proper technique and flexibility is crucial. Rest is essential to prevent overuse injuries. Proper nutrition with adequate calories and calcium is necessary to prevent stress fractures. Abdominal or core strengthening should be done at least three times weekly to prevent back pain and injury.

Neck and back injuries can be common from high-velocity movements and impact of water entry. Shoulders can become unstable and painful. Repeated high-velocity water impact can cause wrist tendinitis and chronic sprains. Back injuries, including spondylolisthesis, can occur. Jumping results in overuse ankle and lower leg injuries. Other traumatic injuries include contusions and lacerations and occur more often in 10 M platform diving. Divers can also develop problems with their ears or repeated dizziness.

To prevent diving injuries: Overall strengthening along with core stabilization such as pilates should be done three times weekly. The focus should be on back, abdominal, shoulder, and wrist strengthening. Stretching should be done daily to maintain necessary flexibility. Lower leg strengthening and stretching should be done three times weekly to prevent calf, ankle, and foot pain and injury. Proper nutrition and adequate calories are crucial, as divers are at high risk of eating disorders leading to poor bone health.

Activities in fencing are done primarily on one side of the body, leading to overuse injuries on that side. Leg overuse injuries include iliotibial band syndrome and plantar fasciitis. Ankle sprains, foot injuries, knee ligament sprains, meniscus tears, and wrist and hand tendinitis can also occur. Lumbar sprains, along with other causes of back pain, can be common due to the forward posture. Traumatic injuries are a risk from the weapon.

To prevent fencing injuries: Leg and spine strength and flexibility is essential. To maintain post

ure and promote body balance, core strengthening and stretching such as yoga should be done at least twice weekly.

Field Hockey
Like most field sports, ankle sprains are most common. Spine pain and even disc herniations can occur due to bending and rotating required during play. Knee injuries of all types can be frequent. Hand, wrist, and elbow sprains can occur. Due to the contact nature of the sport, as well as the use of sticks and balls, fractures, shoulder and knee trauma, and head and face injuries can occur.

To prevent field hockey injuries: Balance drills and overall body strengthening and stretching should be done three times weekly. Proper technique is important in stick and ball handling to prevent overuse injuries of the wrists and back, and equipment should be properly sized.

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From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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