Cheerleading is a sport that has undergone tremendous changes in recent decades. Not that many years ago, being a cheerleader meant merely standing on the sidelines waving pom-poms at the crowd. Today, however, cheerleading has gained recognition as a sport in and of itself. That designation is well-earned, as cheerleaders today display a level of strength and athleticism that rivals the athletes on any field. In fact, the sport is so demanding that it has become one of the leading causes of sports-related injuries. There are some physical dangers associated with cheerleading, and the team at PrimeCare Urgent Care would like to share some safety tips during National Cheerleading Safety Month.
Choosing a Safe Practice Space
The environment in which a cheerleading squad practices is essential to preventing injuries. The floor should be built to absorb impact. Springboards are a good option, as is 4" of mat over foam flooring. Practice should never be conducted in a traditional gym or a room with hard flooring. It is also best to practice indoors, where the space can be controlled and monitored for the presence of moisture, debris or other dangerous surface materials.
Gain the Proper Training
For squads that want to perform high-level cheerleading maneuvers that require pyramids or aerial features, achieving the proper training is critical to avoiding injury. Most of these skills are based on gymnastics, and specialized gymnastic training is needed to maintain safety. If specific gymnastic training is not offered as part of the cheerleading program, sign up for additional training at a facility that specializes in gymnastics.
Maintain a High Level of Fitness
As with any sport, participants who are fit and healthy will experience lower rates of injury than those who are playing beyond their level. Incorporate a variety of fitness activities in addition to cheerleading practice. Strengthening and conditioning the body will help prevent injury and improve performance.
Ensure the Coaching Staff is Certified
The adults who train youth athletes should have specific training themselves. Check to make sure that all key coaching staff has been certified by a professional body such as the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. It can also be helpful to speak with the coaching staff about their safety procedures during both practices and games.
Treat Injuries as They Occur
Cheerleading at a competitive level places a great deal of stress on the bodies of young athletes. Injuries will occur, usually minor in nature. It is important to treat any injury immediately, rather than waiting to see if symptoms will worsen. Young people are still developing, and there are a number of injuries that can lead to chronic pain if left untreated.
At PrimeCare Urgent Care, we are here to help. We offer a variety of medical services to treat injuries from minor to serious. In addition, we offer athletic physicals to youth who are preparing for a new season. Feel free to call or visit for more information, and remember to always play safe!