Sports Safety: The Manual Every Parent Needs

Gymnastics

Most Common Injuries

Lower arm fractures, ankle and wrist sprains and strains

Preventive Measures

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"Check out the coaches," says Dr. Malina. "A lot of them are preoccupied with small body size, which can lead to eating disorders, and many work the children too hard. They may do inordinate repetitions of certain moves, which can lead to injuries." Because gymnastics is a high-impact sport (and that impact is being placed on a still-growing skeleton), it's crucial to have adequate mats and padding placed securely around equipment. Wrist guards or braces should be worn for some events, like vaulting, and spotting -- close physical monitoring by an experienced coach -- is essential.

Often-Overlooked Safety Move

"A coach shouldn't ask a child to attempt skills that aren't within reach of her level," advises Dr. Landry. To determine whether this is happening, ask your child how comfortable she is with her routine. If she seems particularly stressed out or down on herself, talk to her coach about whether it's possible she's being pushed beyond what she's currently capable of handling.

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