Due to the complexity of Gymnastics, rehabbing from injury can be a difficult endeavor to take on. If the rehabilitation regimen used to treat most injuries is not specific to the sport of gymnastics, injuries tend to take longer to recover from and flare ups will continue to occur. Look out for these three common gymnastics physical therapy mistakes which may impede a gymnast’s full recovery from performing at their best and back to training pain free in the gym.
THE EXERCISES USED ARE NOT CHALLENGING ENOUGH
The forces required to land from several feet into the air, jump and rebound into skills, blocking your bodyweight through your arms on vault, etc., all put a lot of stress on the joints to perform day in and day out in gymnastics practice.
If a gymnast is expected to be prepared to return to practice from an injury safely, then the exercises must mimic the forces required. Unfortunately, only using light therabands, small dumbbells, doing leg kicks, and stomach squeezes while lying on back are so frequently the options given. These low level exercises will not get the job done.
Delays in recovery and re-injury will continue if the gymnast is not challenged with their rehab exercises to best prepare for a return to sport.
THE GYMNASTICS SKILLS ARE NEVER LOOKED AT
Too often, a gymnast goes through overuse injuries that heal up nicely with a bit of rest or a round of physical therapy but only end up with another similar injury or the same one repeatedly.
What if the reason for the injury was a technique issue?
Is their back arching excessively during the backhand spring, are their shoulders unable to open up during handstands, or are their landing mechanics improper?
It is all too common where a gymnast’s technique is the issue for the injuries but is never looked at, leaving the athlete in a cycle of injuries they can never shake. Gymnastics physical therapy needs to have the skills to break down these movements.
THEY ARE TOLD TO COMPLETELY REST AND NOT GIVEN PROPER MODIFICATIONS
There are infrequent times when complete rest is justified to resolve an injury. In times that it is, there are always ways to maintain strength and fitness in other areas to maximize training while a gymnast is recovering.
A gymnast should always be given options of what skills, drills, or conditioning they should be doing to ensure a faster and smoother return to 100%.
Does a gymnast’s knee only hurt doing floor landings? Let’s modify the landing surfaces to rod or tumble track while rehabbing that knee to be ready for the floor again.
Does a gymnast’s elbow only hurt on vault blocking? We should keep that elbow strong by remaining to do activities on the beam that are not irritable but keep the joint as strong as possible.
Complete rest during an injury typically will lead to further issues due to deconditioning, especially if rushed back to practice without a gradual process. Gymnastics physical therapy programs much maintain maximal fitness for the athlete.
THE ONWARD DIFFERENCE
At Onward Physical Therapy, a gymnast returning to practice pain-free as efficiently and effectively as possible is our priority.
But, it does not stop there.
We understand that if we only help your gymnast get back to 100%, that is the same position that led to her injured state in the first place! We know while we are treating the symptoms, we must at the same time make sure that their joints and muscles are getting as strong as possible at the same time.
We are continuously progressing the exercise regime to match the gymnast’s needs and work to make sure they are stronger than ever to prevent further recurrences. All while making sure we are reviewing skill performance in the clinic or via video to ensure there are no faults in a technique that may be the true cause of the injuries.
We would hate to have a gymnast heal up to only get back into the gym and miss the real issue that can be resolved with a bit of cueing and technique work.
During the rehab process the goal is to have the gymnast missing minimal practice time and working on substitutions of skills, drill ideas to make sure she is perfecting technique, and communicating with the coaching staff to make sure there is as minimal loss to a gymnasts skill set and fitness while recovering from injury.
Schedule an appointment today with our team across the country for a different approach to gymnastics physical therapy!