Staying active is just one way a kid can fight the ever rising tide of childhood obesity. Participation in sports activities doesn’t come without a cost however, especially if you are a girl. Cheerleading has changed over the last decade to become more than just waving pompoms on the sidelines of a local football game. Cheerleaders are essentially athletes that excel in gymnastics and dance. Tumbling is a large part of any routine, and it is also what might send even the most athletic girl to a specialist in orthopedics. Teens and parents should consider attending cheer classes and centers that teach safety when participating in this predominantly female sport.
Cheerleading is not just for girls anymore, but the female body is less able to withstand the pitfalls of tumbling. For example, girls are four to six times more likely to suffer knee injury than the boys on the cheer team. This includes one of the most crucial ligaments in that joint – the anterior cruciate, or ACL. Tearing of the ACL is a common sports injury, but for some reason, damage plagues girls more than boys. The intricate routines found in cheerleading put the girls at risk for ACL injury.
Why Girls are Prone to Injury
Most people realize the female body is put together differently than a male, but it is unclear why girls are more susceptible to sports-related injuries. The answer probably lies in the study of anatomy and physics.
There are key anatomical differences between the genders such as pelvis size, ligament lengths and structure anomalies in the joints. For instance, the intercondylar notch that brings the ACL across the knee joint is smaller in women. That one simple support variance may account for the increase in ligament tears.
Stability is another element that adds to the diversity in injury statistics. The human body is a biomechanical structure that relies on static and dynamic stabilizers. These stabilizing forces are generally ligaments, muscles and tendons. The differences in stabilizers means woman move differently than men. In other words, girls pivot, run and jump with distinction.
Prevention is a front line defense against injury. Cheerleading requires actions that naturally stress and strain critical joints. Learning the right and wrong way to tumble, pivot and land may reduce the risk of injury on the field.
Kids should be encouraged to take part in activities like cheerleading, but taught ways to move that can help prevent injury. Being female is not a downside in sports, but it is a reminder to take care. Caution while performing can be the difference between winning a championship or sitting at the orthopedics awaiting a x-ray.
Find specialists near you, or look up Orthopedics Oklahoma City if you are in the area.
- Photo Credit: title=”Game Time” by ViNull, on Flickr
- Photo Credit: title=”DSC_3262″ by Burkabinder, on Flickr
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