Boys and girls of different ages can compete in gymnastics at many different levels. Skills and abilities learnt by children from gymnastics provide a good basis for participation in many other sports in the future. Gymnastics involves many different activities requiring a whole range of abilities and skills. Overuse (due to intensity and volume of training) and traumatic (due to falls/accidents) are the cause of most injuries. The lower extremity is placed under great loads in gymnastics (eg vaulting). At the top level training sessions and fitness activities can last for up to 6 hours a day. Intense training usually starts at around ages 6-10 years, with peak performance being reached in about 10 years.
The most common injuries include medial tibial stress syndrome, stress fractures, hand and wrist injuries and low back pain (common due to hypermobility of spine that often develops).
Young female gymnasts are at greater risk for eating disorders and menstrual irregularities, predisposing them to stress fractures.
Hypermobility in dancers/gymnasts:
• higher prevalence of generalised of hypermobility in dancers compared to age matched nurses
• increased range of motion easier performance of some moves, but also may need greater muscular control for some actions (eg en pointe)
• generalised hypermobility syndromes increased risk for range of pathologies in general population – dancers/gymnasts can be at an even greater risk
• instability of joints can put gymnasts at a disadvantage for some activities