Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Injuries in Cheerleading - Q & A with Trent Nessler, DPT

The following blog was an interview with Trent Nessler, DPT (member of the USA Cheer Safety Council) for a online medical education provider done in Nov. 2012.  It is reposted here for educational purposes. 

What are some of the most common injuries encountered in cheerleading?

Cheerleading injuries affect all areas of the body — most commonly the wrists, shoulders, ankles, head, and neck.  According to a 2009 study of 9022 cheerleaders on 412 US cheerleading teams the most common area for injury is lower extremity accounts for 30%, and strains and sprains are the most common (53%). Collegiate cheerleaders were more likely to sustain a concussion and All Star cheerleaders were more likely to sustain a fracture or dislocation than were cheerleaders on other types of teams.

How has the risk of injury changed in recent years?

There has been a dramatic improvement or decrease in injury rates.  Through increased education, safety standards and regulations set by AACCA  (American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators) and safety campaigns like the USA Cheer Keep It Safe Campaign (www.usacheer.net) and Stop Sports Injuries (www.stopsportsinjuries.org) by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, injury rates in cheer have decreased.  In high school athletics, football has the highest severe injury rate per 1000 (athletic exposures) AEs, followed by wrestling, girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer[i].  According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, cheerleading led to 16,000 ER visits in 2002, with significantly more reported for football, basketball, soccer and softball.  That said, cheerleading has the 17th lowest injury rate out of 20 HS sports, lowest rate of concussion over 10 other HS sports and catastrophic injury rates are down 75% since 2005.  According to a 2009 study, injury rates for practices, pep rallies, athletic events, and cheerleading competitions were 1.0, 0.6, 0.6, and 1.4 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures, respectively.

What can coaches and athletes do to prevent injury?

1.     First and foremost, educate yourselves through reliable and valid resources like www.aacca.org, www.usacheer.net, www.stopsportsinjuries.org and www.andrewsed.com.  Knowledge is power. 

2.     Make sure your coaches and gyms are AACCA certified.  This ensures that safety standards are taught, followed and practiced daily. 

3.     Cheer is a sport.  Prepare your athlete for the level of physical exertion required and that their conditioning program addresses the most common weaknesses that lead to these types of injuries.

How important is conditioning to injury prevention?

Critical.  Cheerleading is a sport.  Like any sport, you must physically prepare for that.  Studies have shown that participation in a conditioning program can reduce potential for injury by 88%.  In our most current study, we are actually showing that improvements in strength and endurance in certain key areas not only result in reduction of injuries but also improvements in athletic performance.  So, they not only reduce your risk but also make you a better athlete.


[i] Darrow, C; Collins, C; Yard, E; Comstock, D.  Epidemiology of Severe Injuries Among United States High School Athletes: 2005-2007.  Am J Sports Med. 2009 37:1798-1805.
Cheerleading-Related Injuries in the United States: A Prospective Surveillance Study. J Athl Train. 2009 Nov-Dec; 44(6): 567–577.
[i] Earl, J; Hoch,A. A Proximal Strengthening Program Improves Pain, Function, and Biomechanics in Women With Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Am J Sports Med. 39:154-165. 2011.
[i] Gordon AM, Huxley AF, Julian FJ: The variation in isometric tension with sarcomere length in vertebrate muscle fibres. J Physiol (Lond) 184:170-192, 1966
[i] Chappell, J. D., Herman, D. C., Knight, B. S., Kirkendall, D. T., Garrett, W. E., and Yu, B.  Effect of Fatigue on Knee Kinetics and Kinematics in Stop-Jump Tasks.  Am J Sports Med. 33:1022-1029, 2005
[i] Butcher, S; Bruce, C; Chilibeck, P; Spink, K; Grona, S; Spigings, E.  The effect of trunk stability on vertical takeoff velocity.  J Orth & Sport Phy Ther.  2007;37:223-234.

No comments:

Post a Comment