How Cheerleading Affects the Body and Mind

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It takes four people to put up a stunts. It takes four people to drop a stunt, but it only takes one ounce of doubt to make a stunt come down with injury. Cheerleaders must have a lot of things in sync for a group to make a stunt look good and go of without a injury, if not everyone is at risk. It takes things like trust, strength, focus and a desire to impress to do a successful stunt. The physical part of stunting goes through all stages from youth, high school to elite cheer. All cheerleaders may have smiles on their face but they could be in pain after a stunt.

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All cheerleaders usually have a trauma during cheer, but that’s how you find out if you’re dedicated to a the sport. Cheerleaders who walk right back into practice or a game after a injury shows why cheer is a dangerous sport. Cheerleaders often defy limits and push themselves, even though put themselves at risk for potential problems in the future. When you see cheerleaders doing you don’t really think they are that dangerous because everyone knows what their doing, but if one person is off time or gets caught on something,someone get an injury. You see cheerleaders at football games and basketball games. The rules are if anything over the heads of the bases the stunt has to be performed on a mat or in the grass. When cheerleaders cheer on the track or court can still get hurt like a 17 year old cheerleader in the 1998 attempted a backflip she slipped on the wet artificial turf. She ended up landing on her head, shocking her spinal cord and caused temporary paralysis.

Common injuries for cheerleaders are muscle strains and injuries to the ligaments; there is also the head, neck, and back trauma. These injuries can come from stunting, tumbling, and simply doing jumps. The most dangerous stunts that result in injury if not done right are double downs, basket toss, pyramids, and full downs. Cheerleading is ranked in the top 20 of dangerous sports. Sixty-six percent of all catastrophic injuries in either high school or college females athletes occur due to cheerleading accidents. American Journal of Sports Medicine did an experiment and found of the most common stunts performed at the time there was 29 catastrophic injuries. They also found seventeen were head injuries resulting in 13 skull fractures resulting 2 deaths. 9 of them were pyramids and 8 involved baskets toss. Any trauma to the neck, head, or back can sideline a cheerleader for the whole season depending on how badly the part was injured. Most injuries from jumps or tumbling are known as stress fractures. A stress fracture is when a fracture of a bone caused by mechanical stress, so when you land a tumbling pass that would be a stress fracture.Consumer Product Safety Commission had an estimate of 4,954 hospital emergency room visit were by cheerleading and in 2009 the number went up 28,000. United States Sports Academy states Cheerleader who fall from gymnastic-type stunts have been reported to have a greater impact than being tackled by a professional football player.Cheerleading is more dangerous than football, that is if you look at danger talking about the risk of injury.

Shelby’s story is a good example why cheer stunting needs to be recognize. Shelby’s suffered a head injury and got cleared to cheer again, then got injured again , but her symptoms were more serve. She was sensitive to noise and light, experienced fainting spells, seizures, anxiety, depression, and excessive drowsiness. Shelby’s story caught the attention of Jim Lord executive director of the AACCA at the time. The raw statistic that cheerleading accounts for two-third of all catastrophic injuries among female high school athletes. The raw number shouldn’t scare people, it should be how the cheerleaders are getting injured. This is why the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research and the NFHS, NCAA, AACCA all make the rules on what is too dangerous to do in a stunt. Rules restrict such as no stunts above the head without a mat and backflip basket are not allowed at the highschool level. The AAP says the risk of injury is higher if a cheerleader has a high body mass index, a cheerleader has a previous injury, cheers are performed on a hard surface, cheerleader who are supervised by a coach with not alot of experience about the sports.

Cheerleaders are encouraged to be ultra-competitive and this drives them to high and more dangerous stunts. Many cheerleaders will try to hide an injury if possible and walk it off, so not to appear weak or let the team down. This results the injury getting worse. Many cheerleaders take advantage of chiropractic care. Many injuries can worsen the body and over time can create long term loss of function. A more serious injury that occurs over time is call spondylolisthesis which is when the bone in the spine becomes is unable to maintain its position and the vertebrae will slip out of alignment this is often caused by stress on the back. The ideal posture to prevent weak joints that could cause muscle strain is head over hips, center of gravity in front of the heel, hips upright and aligned over the foot arch.

The way injuries affect athletes mental is different than physical because you could be overwhelmed by a variety of internal and external lose. You may feel like you lost your identity as an athlete. Many athletes fall into depression after the injury and while going to physical therapy. Kenny McKinley was a Denver Broncos wide receiver, who had a knee injury and went to have surgery. After the surgery he was sideline the whole season, which eventually lead to him committing suicide, because he didn’t know what he would do without the sport he loved. If a athlete has a concussion could affect them more because when you have a concussion there is no accurate timeline to release them to play. When a cheerleader has a concussion and goes to school the next day no one would actually recognize that the cheerleader was injury. When you have a concussion you look normal unlike someone who has a sling or crutches. Most teacher have been taught the signs or signals to look for if someone has a concussion. How you are affected mental can depend on how badly you were injured. If you only sprained your ankle, you might be out for a week or two, but if you got a concussion you could be out the whole season. Many cheerleaders who were injured are still trying to find a way to help the team out which might help them from slipping into depression. There has been research about how an injury has effect on the mental health, but not one specifically on cheerleading. When a cheerleader goes to a competition they have to do their best. Most sports you have to try to do the best of their ability to win. Cheerleaders have to put everything into their performance, so they can advance to the next round. Cheerleader don’t get to just give up after a lost, they have to go back to the gym and keep practicing to the get the routine to it best. This puts more stress on the cheerleader. Cheerleader still have to go to school, work, and worry about any test or homework that they have to do that night. Adding something that takes a major of their time is very stressful having to balance everything. When you are stress your ability to do anything slows down and your muscle could tighten, which could possibly lead to a injury.

The line of danger to a cheerleader verus someone who make the line are very different. The person who makes the line doesn’t know how it’s gonna look or how the stunt groups gonna feel towards the stunt. When a cheerleader is not comfortable or in any way possible feel like they are going to get injured that’s where they draw the line. If the cheerleader is fairly new they are not gonna want to do a full basket. They will want to work their way there so they know that they can trust their base and know that they aren’t gonna get injured. The people who make the rules don’t know how it feels to be in the stunts or when the stunt is falling. They just know that the stunt is dangerous. A cheerleader who was injure will most likely not want to do the stunt that got them injured every again.

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How Cheerleading Affects The Body and Mind. (2019, Aug 05). Retrieved October 4, 2022 , from
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