Staying Healthy in Gymnastics

5 Tips to Staying Healthy in Gymnastics

A handstand, “the act of supporting the body in a stable, inverted vertical position
by balancing on the hands (Wikipedia),” is one of the most basic positions in gymnastics.

Here are 5 tips to staying healthy in gymnastics to help keep gymnasts flipping on the beam,
tumbling on the floor, vaulting through the air, and swinging on the bars.

1.Good flexibility is important- Gymnasts are super flexible right? Not always! The average
gymnast usually has one side that is more flexible than the other. For example, you may have
your right split down all the way, but not your left.

Many gymnasts are very flexible in some parts of their bodies, but not in others and this can
be a cause of back or joint pain. For instance, you may stand with an increased arch in your back.

Many times gymnasts think this is because their backs are so flexible. That is partially true, but
it is also possible that your hips are too tight in the front and by stretching your hip flexors
and being more aware of your posture, you will reduce your back pain. Tight shoulders can also place
increased strain on your lower back when performing bridges and back walkovers, so it is important to
stretch your shoulders before you start tumbling. Remember, not all gymnasts are born flexible.

Flexibility can improve, but it takes time and dedication. You will reduce the potential for
injury, improve skill technique, and learn more advanced skills by being more flexible and
working both sides equally.

2. Stay balanced- Gymnasts may be some of the strongest athletes out there; however, their
strength did not just appear overnight. Many hours are spent training and conditioning to
make the muscles strong enough to support all of the joints in the body.

That being said, just because you are a gymnast does not mean that every muscle group in the body
is strong and properly developed. Gymnasts often have weak muscles in their hips, typically their
gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, that are not as strong as they need to be, which can lead to
injuries in the hips, knees, and lower back down the road.

Gymnasts often prefer one side, so it is important to work both sides when training and conditioning
to stay in balance. This also helps the body to develop good proprioception, or a sense of where the body is in space, so be sure to practice leaps, jumps, and turns on both sides to improve symmetry in the body.
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