Gymnastics

01 Overview

Gymnastics requires the use of one’s entire body for aerial and acrobatic movements. This Olympic sport requires balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, agility, endurance, and control, and is governed locally by Gymnastics BC. Routines include the use of equipment such as vaults, balance beams, and trampolines. Common injuries are strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, abrasions, contusions, lacerations, and concussions.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Ankle sprains, strains, and fractures are common in gymnastics.

Injuries to the lower leg are common in gymnastics.

Injuries to the back are common in gymnastics.

Shoulder injuries are common injuries in gymnastics.

While not common, head injuries can occur during gymnastics and can include sustaining a concussion.

02 Injury Statistics

The most common injury sites in collegiate gymnasts include the ankle, lower leg, shoulder, Achilles tendon, trunk and foot. The head, neck, ankle, knee, back, spine, and elbow are common injury sites in younger gymnasts. One of the most prevalent chronic issues experienced by gymnasts is lower back pain.

Most injuries in gymnastics occur on an apparatus or during a dismount, followed by floor exercises and the uneven bars. Athletes spend approximately 14% to 20% of their training year practicing at non-optimal levels due to injury.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

03 Risk Factors

Risk factors for injury in gymnastics include sex, age, previous history of injury, supervision, competing before complete recovery after injury, technique, the number of hours spent training, skill-level, and environmental factors such as landing surfaces.

As gymnastic events vary in equipment use and technique, more information is needed about the specific risk factors associated with each event and the populations that are at higher risk of injury.

  • Age

    Children may be more likely to continue practicing or competing with an injury as compared to older gymnasts.

  • Environment

    The environment used by gymnasts in competition compared to practice can be risk factors for injury. During competition, gymnasts may be performing with unfamiliar equipment, on surfaces with thinner mats, and without a spotter present. Increased stress during competitions may also lead to a greater number of landing-related injuries.

  • Overtraining or Overuse

    As with most sports, too much training can increase the risk of injury.

  • Continued Competition

    Continued competition when injured is a risk factor for injury and re-injury. This can lead to gymnasts suffering more severe injuries.

  • Previous History of Injury

    Having a previous injury increases the risk of re-injury.

  • Improper Technique

    Poor technique can lead to a greater chance of injury in gymnastics.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in gymnastics.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Training

    Learn proper form and technique to reduce your risk of injury. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. Always practice in the presence of a spotter.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a Neuromuscular Training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in gymnastics, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for participants and parents to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Equipment

    All equipment should be regularly inspected and up to safety standards, such as sufficient padding on floors, walls, and landing surfaces.

    Training

    Coaching on proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury in gymnasts. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. Gymnasts should practice in the presence of a spotter.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage your gymnasts to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that gymnasts can complete at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in gymnastics, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for coaches and teachers to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing gymnastics in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing gymnastics in elementary schools.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your coaches, teachers, organization, or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Equipment

    All equipment should be regularly inspected and up to safety standards, such as sufficient padding on floors, walls, and landing surfaces.

    Training

    Coaching on proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury in gymnasts. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. Gymnasts should practice in the presence of a spotter.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in gymnastics, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected.  The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Encouraging coaches to incorporate a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage your gymnasts to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Centre, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to gymnastics.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing gymnastics in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing gymnastics in elementary schools.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing gymnastics injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to participants, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training; and
    2. Ensuring that injured participants are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to gymnastics to prevent re-injury or chronic injury.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Encouraging gymnasts, their parents, coaches, and officials to include a well-rounded training program into their warm-up at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage your gymnasts to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that gymnasts can complete at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in gymnastics, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Preparticipation Physical Evaluation.