Injuries

Part 1

 

Being injured is a terrible event in any athlete’s career.  One injury can jeopardise some-one’s progression in the sport or even mark the end of their career.  In gymnastics, it is so easy to get hurt. The simplest deviation of a body line can inadvertently cause great harm.

 

Types of Injuries

blisters2There are the obvious types of injuries; muscle strains and tears and broken bones.  There are also injuries that develop over a period of time (Osgood Schlatters disease for example, which occurs from a combination of factors such as repetitive jumping ) and much more serious conditions such as paralysis from a high fall, though thankfully this is rare.  

As well as the physical sensation of pain, the gymnast has to cope with the emotional effects of unwanted downtime while the injury heals.  In a sport like gymnastics, which emphasises adventurousness and includes the use of different types of equipment, participants are bound to become injured at some point during their career.

 

A personal recap

During my years as a competitive gymnast, I experienced my fair share of injuries.  Three of them in particular, come to mind. Surprisingly, the simplest and seemingly most innocuous one has caused the most long-term damage.

 

The Flyaway Incident 

At age eleven, I was performing a tucked flyway on the A Bars.  For the uninitiated, this is essentially swinging off the bar and doing a mid-air somersault. It may sound pretty simple, just a matter of letting go but this is not the case.

For a flyaway, you must have the right entry swing into it, otherwise it will be slow which will slow down the rotation mid air, causing you to rotate slower and to land on your face. However, going too fast, perhaps from a fast handstand position and not being able to control your body will essentially mean that you may over-rotate on the late release, landing on your ass or, worse still, what happened to me. The correct body shape is essential. Ideally, you should go from a straight out handstand position, to meet the bar horizontally in a dish shape  and then tuck in and release.  

 

 

In my case, I swung too fast, in control of my body but not controlling my height and not having any spacial awareness that day. I over-rotated, not in the normal sense, but back up onto the bar, bouncing my neck off it and landing in a heap on the floor, with all of my weight on my neck. 

I don’t remember it too well apart from thinking that it was so cool that I’d managed to swing up so high but my concerned coaches rushed to my side, checking my breathing and seeing if I was conscious.  I didn’t want an ambulance called, for some reason I’ve always had this awareness of my body that I know when something is seriously wrong so I asked for my parents to be called. They knew me well enough to know to let me go with my gut instinct and allowed my parents to make the final decision.  They took me to our brilliant physiotherapist and with some cryotherapy and soft tissue work, I was fine and back to training within two weeks. Luckily, I’ve had no long term damage to my neck.

 

The Beam Flip

I missed the placement of one of my hands when performing a back flip on  the beam. I landed heavily, with one shoulder on the edge of the beam. It was instantly swollen and bruised. I was out of training for three weeks before I was able to return. I am reminded of this injury every day when I look at or touch my shoulder.  Although not obvious to the untrained eye, my right trapezius muscle has not developed as much as my left, thus leaving me with lob-sided shoulders and a permanent lump. It isn’t painful but it bothers me, I know it’s there and will always be there to remind me of that day and the pain I endured whilst trying to sleep and do other daily activities.

 

 

Part 2 to follow soon!

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