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The harmful effects of gymnastics

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Sara Buseman

on 30 November 2014

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Transcript of The harmful effects of gymnastics

Gymnastics is a highly challenging sport. Many children aspire to be Olympic gymnasts, but only a few will ever make it. The current methods for teaching gymnasts are extremely demanding and at advanced levels, require that children give up many areas of their lives. This can have extremely negative consequences on developing children.
Stunted Growth
Girls in gymnastics are especially vulnerable to delayed puberty. Young girls training for the olympics may not hit puberty until nearly 16. Both boys and girls are susceptible to stunted growth due to over training, excessive dieting and the extreme stress that is associated with gymnastics.

Eating Disorders
Gymnastics coaches frequently pressure their competition team members to lose weight. Teenage girls are especially vulnerable when pressured to lose weight. The curvy body of a teenage woman is generally considered undesirable in gymnastics. Consequently, girls may develop eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, in attempts to lose weight. Eating disorders affect every system of the body and may cause endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory and other problems.

Gymnastics is a high-impact sport, and one misstep can cause serious injuries. Broken bones and serious sprains are common among gymnasts. Broken bones can alter growth in some cases. When children break bones along a bone's growth plate, the bone may stop growing. Breaks that do not heal correctly can cause crooked posture, difficulty moving and long-term pain.

The harmful effects of gymnastics
Common Injuries
Common Injuries are variations of Tendonitis, sprained ankles, back soreness, rotator cuff tear, shin splints, stress fractures, tennis elbow, pinched nerves, patella tendonitis, and early arthritis.
To prevent injuries

Maintain fitness. Be sure you are in good physical condition at the start of gymnastics season. During the off-season, stick to a balanced fitness program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility. If you are out of shape at the start of the season, gradually increase your activity level and slowly build back up to a higher fitness level. It is essential to rebuild your strength, endurance, and skill level before attempting more complex gymnastics moves.

Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch. Research studies show that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.

To prevent Injuries
Cool down and stretch. Stretching at the end of practice or competition is too often neglected because of busy schedules. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Be sure to stretch after each training practice to reduce your risk for injury.

To prevent injury
To prevent injury
Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation. A general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise. Drinking an additional 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise is also helpful. While you are exercising, break for an 8 oz. cup of water every 20 minutes.

Loss of Education Time
Many young kids are taken out of school to pursue gymnastics, and aren't getting a proper education at home or with a tutor traveling. They suffer from this loss in the end if they aren't able to make gymnastics a career.
These growth plates can be very vulnerable and easily damaged especially with young kids in gymnastics
Gymnast Shawn Johnson is only 4'9" tall
From left to right Gymnast McKayla Maroney is only 5'2", Kyla Ross is one of the tallest gymnasts at 5'4" and Gabby Douglas is 4'11"
Mary Lou Retton was 4'9"
Emergency Room
In my sport, gymnastics, injuries were always part of the game, and growing up I was no stranger to the ER. But it wasn't until I had a serious vaulting accident at age 14 that I realized just how dangerous the sport truly is. Running full speed, I hit the springboard. It catapulted me up in preparation to push off the horse and do a back flip. Somehow, my hands missed. My coach dived in to break my fall, but I still slammed onto the mat, banging my head. Blackout. Even in a concussed daze (with teeth through the lip) I remember feeling lucky. It could have been so much worse: I could easily have broken my neck. I'd practiced that vault a thousand times. I'd nailed it in competitions and won regional titles for it. - Lindsay Lyon recalls
Nearly 426,000 kids ages 6 to 17 were treated for gymnastics-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms between 1990 and 2005, according to a study in April's Pediatrics, an average of almost 27,000 bang-ups a year. Upper-extremity fractures and dislocations were most common among the younger set, while the 12-to-17-year-olds typically strained or sprained their lower limbs. "Many people don't think of gymnastics as a dangerous sport," says study senior author Lara McKenzie, an assistant professor in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio. But in terms of catastrophic injuries like neck breaks, it ranks right up there with ice hockey, she says.
"In my practice, gymnasts are the athletes that are most likely to put up with an injury for the longest time before they actually report it," says pediatric orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. The grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it culture of the sport can exacerbate problems.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?
Normal Spine, vs. The common gymnast's spine.
In the 1992 NCAA survey, 51% of the gymnastics programs that responded reported this illness among its team members, "a far greater percentage than in any other sport" ("Dying to win" 1994). Unfortunately, the real number is probably even higher.
Eating Disorders
They were left painfully ­unwell and Rhiannon spent seven months at a clinic battling anorexia. They claim acrobatic gymnasts were left on the brink of breakdowns after being:
- Weighed several times in three-hour training sessions.
- Told to eat low-carb diets.
- Needed medical care after suffering panic attacks because of the intense pressure.
- Ordered to keep food diaries and present them to trainers on a weekly basis.
Now their ­parents are calling for governing body British Gymnastics to crack down and make sure all coaches abide by a strict code of conduct.
Amber’s mum Cherry-Ann, from Garsington, ­Oxfordshire, said: “Gymnastics is meant to be fun.
“In fact the sport was destroying their mental and physical health because of the way in which the coaches approached the sport as though it was life and death.”
Rhiannon, now 18, from ­Milton Keynes, was ­enrolled in a gymnastics class aged four. When she was 14, she was ready to compete at ­an ­international level.
But as training became more intense the pressure mounted. She said: “I was told I was getting too heavy. If I had even put on a kilo I was told I was too fat to do a tumble.”
At under 9st she was a healthy weight but comments about her size were relentless. Rhiannon said: “It made me feel scared and I got into quite a state one session. I believed what I was being told about my weight because the person was in a professional position. I started crying. I said, ‘I don’t know how you expect me to do this in a healthy way’. Comments about my weight made me feel I should restrict my calorie intake.”
Rhiannon put herself on a 600-calorie-a-day diet – the recommended daily intake is 2,000 calories for women.
Anorexia Story
Gymnastics Injuries
Stress and Anxiety
In a world where only perfect is acceptable, many gymnasts are constantly feeling stressed, and anxiety filled. This could also eventually lead to depression.
Burned Out?
Many gymnasts report being "Burned out" due to over training, saying that gymnastics wasn't fun anymore. They also didn't have any time to do any other activities, including studying.
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