Improve Your All Star Cheerleading Stunts Fast and Reduce Common Injuries to Your Elbow and Wrist

Improve Your All Star Cheerleading Stunts Fast and Reduce Common Injuries to Your  Elbow and Wrist

By Alton Skinner

            The most common injury to All Star Cheerleaders is tendinitis in the elbow and wrist.  There are several reasons All Star Cheerleaders get tendinitis in their wrist, in can be related to impact caused from repetitive tumbling, it can occur from being a base. There is a tremendous amount of force transmitted to the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the wrist and elbow from the loading process, elevation and catching of the flyers.  The forearm muscles are fairly large, and they connect to the elbow with some rather small tendons.  Since the tendons are much smaller than the muscles, the force of impact is multiplied many times, and a large amount of shock is placed on the tendons exactly where they attach at the bones of the elbow.  This repeated shock or weak forearms overtime will result in tendinitis of the elbow or wrist. 

Because the primary cause of All Star wrist injuries is that the force of impact is passed along the muscles of the forearm and to the tendons, the best way to prevent elbow problems is to strengthen the muscles of the forearm.  A larger and stronger muscle will absorb more of the force and prevent excessive shock to your elbow.   


Wrist Strength

            Strengthening exercises involve a light weight (starting with as little as two to five pounds), using 30 to 45 repetitions of movement patterns that emphasize the wrist and forearm.  Make sure you consult a physical therapist or physician if you are rehabilitating an elbow injury. The following exercises will improve strength and muscular endurance.  Take care to isolate the movements at the wrist and hand, and do not use the upper body or trunk to cheat.  A full explanation of how to perform the following drills can be found on You Tube on my channel

  • Wrist Curls: Extensors 
  • Wrist Curls: Flexors
  • Forearm Pronation
  • Forearm Supination
  • Radial Deviation
  • Ulnar Deviation 
  • Grip strengthening


Wrist Flexibility

            Flexibility is an important part of preventing elbow and wrist injuries.  Cheerleaders need these stretches to maintain proper range of motion in there wrist and elbow. Perform these stretches before and after practice or a competition.  Remember to hold each stretch for about 15 to 20 seconds. A full explanation of how to perform the following stretches can be found on You Tube on my channel

  • Forearm flexor stretch 
  • Forearm extensor stretch


            It is not often that doing one thing, gives you the bonus of accomplishing two things at once.  However, the exercise program for All Star elbow appears to do just that.  The same strengthening and flexibility exercises you would do for preventing All Star elbow also prevent elbow injuries.

            Increasing strength and endurance of the muscles that cross the wrist helps to protect the wrist and the ligaments that keep the wrist together.  In addition to strength and flexibility exercises, proper technique while tumbling and stunting play a critical role in staying injury free.

Add these exercise to your prep program twice a week and watch your stunts improve and your wrist and elbows stay healthy. Check by Winning Workouts For Competitive Cheerleading frequently for more information that will  rapidly and radically improve your Cheerleading performance.


The Four C’s of Winning Cheer Fitness

The Four C’s of Winning Cheer Fitness
March is National Cheerleading Safety Month. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators have several plans to improve cheerleader safety. The AACCA recommendations for both college and school cheer squads include the following guidelines:
B. General Program Guidelines
6. All cheerleading squads should adopt a comprehensive conditioning and strength-building program.
7. An appropriate warm-up routine should precede all cheerleading activities.

Despite these guidelines many teams don’t have anyone to help watch over their highly skilled athletes during these critical elements of an effective injury prevention program. This may be due a large number of athletes, limited training time, competing demands (e.g. practice and competition) or lack of knowledge.
That being said, I want to share the Four C’s of a comprehensive strength and condition program.
1. Collaboration. Your athletes have a limited recovery capacity, so if you add something to their training program you have to take something out. More isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more. Unfortunately, it’s hard to manage in a team setting. It is not uncommon for cheer athletes to have multiple coaches. There may be a team coach, all star coach, tumbling/gymnastic coach, dance instructor, and maybe a physical therapist or trainer working with an athlete. It is quite possible they all have recommended a core strengthening program without knowing about the duplication. The team coach may have an intense practice on top of an already heavy duty training session. If you are always adding and never adjusting a program it’s only a matter of time before your athlete is injured. That is why collaboration between coaches, parents, medical staff, trainers and players is important if you desire a winning program filled with injury free athletes.

2. Customization. I am always surprised that athletes aren’t managed and coached on a case by case situation, until they are injured. Then, modifications to practice and training are rapidly implemented. Just think how many fewer injuries would occur if you could manage the training of your athletes on a more custom basis? This would give your team a competitive advantage by keeping more of your athletes competition ready. Also, think of the business and recruiting edge of being able to promise a customized approach to athlete development versus a cookie cutter one size fits all approach to strength and conditioning.

3. Competitive. It is amazing how many people in the world of competitive cheer have little knowledge of exercise science or the unique needs of modern competitive cheerleading, yet they still are designing strength and conditioning for competitive cheerleaders. In most cases, it is better if the athletes did nothing. General training is important and helpful, but be aware that tumbling, stunt and jumping are some of the most challenging moves in the athletic world. If you do not factor the physical demands and adaptations caused by our sport you are looking for trouble and failing to give your athletes the best chance to win.

4. Commitment. As with anything in life your get out what you put into your conditioning and safety program. The greatest program ever designed by the greatest coach ever that is performed without committed, consistent effort and attention to detail is destined to fail. If you have athletes missing warm-ups, coaches showing up unprepared, and athletes without commitment, it doesn’t matter what’s written up for the training day.

So, whether you are designing a program, an athlete following a program, or a parent/ coach evaluating a program, please take the 4 C’s of cheer strength and conditioning in to consideration when implementing a conditioning program to reduce injuries

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