Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gymnastics and Foot Injuries


Every year more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries are treated in doctor's offices, hospitals, and clinics. While gymnastics may be seen as a graceful sport, the gymnast is an athlete, and therefore will suffer debilitating injuries just like a football or soccer player. Think of how much power and balance a person needs to do a complicated series on the balance beam.
These complex routines increase the potential for injuries. This past summer Olympics was a prime example with McKayla Maroney injuring her foot multiple times and Jordyn Dewitt being unable to compete. Injuries are common in the feet and ankles, often due from overuse or stress. They are rarely serious, but if left untreated or ignored, foot and ankle injuries in gymnasts can lead to chronic pain and further injury.
Gymnasts do a lot of high impact landing through all of their apparatus routines. When the gymnast finishes a run on the floor exercise they will often do a complicated twist or turn in the air, gathering momentum. So they land with all of that force, plus their body weight, on their feet. One wrong move and you can end up with a fractured or sprained ankle, or torn ligament.
Acute foot injuries are usually sprains which can be minor or more serious. The athlete will experience swelling, bruising, and tenderness directly over the bone, all signs of a more serious injury. Minor injuries will have tenderness limited to one side of the joint without substantial swelling. Protection with taping or a brace will help prevent re-injury
Achilles tendonitis is a common foot injury for gymnasts because of the repetitive stress of jumping and landing. The athlete may complain of calf soreness that is aggravated by jumping and landing. Treatment options include ultrasound, stretching, calf exercises, and immobilization.
Injuries can be prevented by:
  • Wearing appropriate foot gear when training or competing, like ankle braces or pads.
  • Never playing through the pain. By taking care of the problem right away you will prevent further injury and prolonged time away in the future.
  • Know where first aid is located when training and competing.
  • Inspect your equipment before practicing or competing, especially floor mats.
  • When learning new skills and tricks, insist on having a spotter.
  • Warm up! Going right into physical activity stresses the muscles, paving the way for injury. 
If you participate in gymnastics and have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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