Cheerleading used to be very basic years ago when compared to today’s standards, but it has now evolved into an intense competition. This was also sensationalized by the 2000 movie, “Bring It On”, where 2 rival cheering squads competed against each other, even stealing each other’s routines. Over the past 10-15 years, it has gained national attention thru cheerleading competitions, increasing it’s exposure on networks such as ESPN, ESPN 2, and NBC. College-level cheerleading, and the National Competitions are amazingly competitive, well timed and coordinated. The squads have to be in great physical shape or someone can get horribly hurt – considering how high the stunts are off the ground.
Not surprisingly, over the course of the past 7 or 8 years, one of the leading causes of injury to present to my office in high school- and college-aged girls isn’t field hockey or girls basketball, it’s cheerleading. This sport is becoming more and more competitive at younger and younger ages, and the stunts are becoming trickier to coordinate and perform right away. A Live Science article in 2008 stated that cheering was “the girls’ most dangerous sport”, and has the statistics listed even higher than what I’ve posted through my office and 22 years of experience. Just Google ‘cheerleading injury statistics’ and you’re bound to come up with pages of publications that have drawn attention to these staggering numbers. Even with training and proper form, basket tosses are uneven, pyramids lose stabilization, and spotters miss catching a falling girl. The resulting injuries are a bit more involved because the cheering squads typically wear no padding – and this causes more bruising, concussions, joint sprains and fractures.
So, what do you do if you get injured? Most often the injuries seen in my office are shoulder sprains, muscle strains, knee sprains, hip and thigh strains and contusions, sprained ankles and wrists(from overextension). Occasionally, an errand elbow will hit someone in the head causing a concussion, a headache or even a whiplash! But treating these injuries is what the office excels in – joint and muscle sprains and strains of the spine and extremities – and getting the girls back on the squad quickly and able to perform the stunts again, just like getting a football player back in the game so he can play at his full capacity. It’s really no different.
But another benefit from chiropractic care is addressing the symmetry and balance of the individual in order to get them to perform at their greatest level. Being able to perform a walk-over with either leg forward, the splits – bilaterally, or reverse-walkovers to either side – is a sign of symmetry and is a great asset to a cheering squad – should the routine require a one-sided symmetrical performance. Often times, just having the ability to do these things ONE way is great…but wouldn’t BOTH ways be INCREDIBLE?? My office works to improve stability and coordination by balancing the structure(frame) of the individual. Spinal adjustments achieve this by restoring lost joint mobility, while addressing other health concerns that may be contributing to the loss – like scoliosis, sway-back, hyperkyphosis and uneven leg lengths.
So get back AT the game, and make sure you use chiropractic care to improve YOUR balance and function like the on-field athletes do!! If this is your sport, why treat yourself differently?