Spinal injuries - Gymnastics Injuries

Causes of spinal injuries

The most common cause of spinal injuries amongst gymnasts is falling awkwardly or falling from a height; many of the actions carried out in gymnastics require a combination of speed and power which may cause a gymnast to fall with great speed; this will increase the risk of landing awkwardly which will apply pressure to the spine and joints. Falling from a height will increase the strength of the impact when the gymnast lands; this can exert considerable pressure on the spine.

Symptoms of spinal injuries

Minor spinal injuries may cause a restricted range of movement, swelling and pain. More serious spinal injuries may cause the athlete to lose consciousness and may contribute to paralysis and a loss of movement; these injuries result from damage to the spinal cord which prevents nerve signals being carried to and from the brain.

Treatment for spinal injuries

All spinal injuries should be treated with great caution; if a spinal injury is suspected the athlete should not move and should be checked over by a doctor as quickly as possible. Minor injuries will usually heal over the course of time with rest and medication to control pain. More serious injuries will require a lengthy recovery period; depending on the severity of the injury, the gymnast may have to spend a long time in hospital and may have to learn to walk again; movement will be gradually increased by physiotherapy and specific exercises; this process will be very gradual to prevent any further damage. In many cases, serious spinal injuries can end a gymnast’s career.

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