March is National Cheerleading Safety Month, and with good reason. In fact, Cheerleading is one of the leading sports for catastrophic injuries. However, with the proper training and safety awareness, this popular and always evolving sport can be fun and safe.
Not all cheerleading injuries are career ending, and most often the injuries that occur are ankle sprains, muscle strains, and small foot fractures. These can occur from landing with the foot in a poor position out of jumps, tumbling passes, or other stunts.
The tumbling passes and jumps are often performed on a variety of surfaces such as basketball courts, football fields, and uneven grass, which contributes even more to the likelihood of injury.
It’s true that cheerleading can be tough on your body, and like many other sports, put a lot of extra stress and strain on your already overworked feet. Pay attention to the following, to ensure that you are competing and cheering your team to victory, in a way that is safe for your feet.
Wear the right shoes. This is a common theme in preventing foot injury in any sport. Cheerleaders may benefit from shoes that are flexible in the toes but firm and supportive in the arch and heel to prevent ankle sprains and foot strains.
Stretch. Maintaining your flexibility is important for everyone to maintain good foot health, however when you are participating in the complex gymnastics and dance routines the cheerleading requires, you need to be properly warmed up to prevent injury.
Be mindful of surfaces. Cheerleaders may notice that when they suddenly change from football to basketball season, they experience foot pain or shin splints that weren’t there before. Performing for three hours on a hard basketball court puts different stress on your foot and ankle than a mat, or soft turf or track. Ease in to your workouts and if you notice any new pains or strains, rest for a day or two so the pain does not turn into something more debilitating, like a stress fracture.
Train Hard, but know your limits. Cheerleaders are always pushing themselves to learn the next new skill and are willing to brush aside small bumps and bruises to keep competing. Again, make sure you are gradually working up to a new skill, and know that pain is not normal and is the first sign that something is wrong. If you feel aches, pains, or discomfort in your foot or ankle, see your podiatrist so that your problem doesn’t turn into something more serious.
At Toe-Tal Foot & Ankle Care, our doctors specialize in sports medicine injuries of the foot and ankle. Call our office today if aches and pains are preventing you from soaring to the top of the pyramid.