Cheerleaders rally the team and the crowd during games and represent their schools in intense competitions. Unfortunately, many cheerleaders are injured while practicing and performing each year in the United States. With proper training, rules and spotting, however, many of these injuries can be prevented.
Cheerleading Injury Facts
- The most common injuries are strains and sprains.
- The body parts most commonly injured are feet, ankles and legs.
- Most injuries happen during practice.
- Most serious injuries happen on artificial turf, grass, traditional foam floors, or wood floors because these surfaces are not able to absorb impacts well.
- Nearly all concussions happen when cheerleaders are performing stunts.
Cheerleading Safety Tips
- Aboveground stunts should only be performed on floors that absorb impact well, such as spring floors or 4-inch thick landing mats placed on traditional foam floors or grass/turf, never over hard surfaces such as concrete, vinyl floors or asphalt.
- Strength training can help prevent strains and sprains.
- Practice proper lifting and falling techniques.
- Proper warm-ups, like stretching, before and during performances will help prevent injuries.
- Coaches should complete cheerleading safety training and coach certification programs. Newly certified coaches should work under the supervision of more experienced coaches.
Cheerleading teams should have and enforce a set of safety rules. These should include guidelines for returning to participation after an injury.
- Coaches, athletic trainers, cheerleaders and parents should learn about the signs and symptoms of concussions.
- Have an emergency plan.
- Coaches should familiarize themselves with national organizations' rules and guidelines, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), CheerSafe, American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA), and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
- Additional recommendations to reduce cheerleading injuries include completion of pre-participation physical exams for cheerleaders, availability of athletic trainers, and improved national surveillance of cheerleading injuries.
Cheerleading Research in the News
- Stunts Raise Injury Risks for Cheerleaders (U.S. News & World Report)
- The Risky Business of Cheerleading (Los Angeles Times)
- Cheerleading Injuries More than Double (USA Today)
- Pompoms, Pyramids and Peril (New York Times)
- Extreme Cheerleading (Chicago Parent)
Additional Cheerleading Information
- Press Release: New National Study Finds More Than Half of Cheerleading Injuries in U.S. Due to Stunts - November 16, 2009