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Archive for June 11, 2007

June 11, 2007 — Inside the Journal of Athletic Training, part 8 — women’s gymnastics

Eighth of 14 parts.

We’re halfway through our two-week series, looking one by one at the sport-specific studies in the June 2007 edition of the Journal of Athletic Training, a publication which explicitly recommends that field hockey players should be required to wear helmets.

The reason for this series is to determine whether study directors used a double-standard for field hockey as opposed to every other sport; applied different standards based on gender; or responded to market forces instead of strict science.

Today, we look at a sport which usually gets its high-point of attention every four years: women’s gymnastics. It is a sport which, interestingly, also sees its best talent not go to U.S. colleges, but instead migrates to the club system.

Women’s gymnastics

Main results: Injury rates are twice as high in competitions than in practices. More than half of the injuries were to the lower body, especially to knees and ankles.

Recommendations: Ankle braces should begiven to gymnasts with previous injuries, and floor mats need to be redesigned.

What the study directors missed: The role of eating disorders in the development of women’s bodies, especially in puberty.

What the study directors underreported: Skeletal injuries. Some discussion is given to lower-back injury, but there was little or no discussion given to neck injuries. Further, the fact that gymnastics competition injuries are down over the 15 years of the study is buried near the end of the narrative.

Equipment recommendations made: Ankle braces, dismount pads.

Equipment recommendations not made: Redesigning of equipment such as the vault horse (done after the 2000 Olympics), adding padding to the floor in the floor exercise, possible spinal protection in case of hitting the head on the uneven bars or balance beam.