Researchers found that cheerleading ranks 18 out of 22 on the list with the high school sports that expose athletes to frequent injuries, but it is the second in terms of the gravity of injuries.
The study also found that male cheerleaders are more prone to injuries and that most accidents occurr during practice. More than 30 percent of injuries cheerleaders experience are concussions. Next in line are muscle strains and bone fractures.
Dustin Currie, lead investigator in the study and epidemiology researcher at at the Colorado School of Public Health, noted that most injuries affect the base rather than the flyer, because the base often gets hit by the flyer during practice.
In the U.S., there are about 400,000 high school cheerleaders, making the sport the forth most popular in the nation’s schools. But study authors noted that because cheerleading is not considered a true sport in some states safe regulations are weaker, and cheerleaders are more exposed to injuries.
For instance, in states that deem cheerleading a mere athletic activity, cheerleaders do not have a place of their own to practice. Instead they practice in parking lots or on the school’s hallways, which ups the risk of injury.
A former captain of a high school cheerleading squad recalls that most injuries occurred because her team lacked a practice space. In wintertime, they were forced to practice on school highways or in the main lobby, and girls were easily distracted by students coming in and out.
In summertime they practiced outside, but often their practice hours overlapped with those of the football team, which got everyone distracted. And distractions are not a good thing when you try to throw a girl into the air, the former captain said.
On the other hand the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators believes that the sports status of the activity does not reduce the risk of injury. If cheerleading is considered a sport, girls will need to make it competitive and perform the most dangerous moves over and over again to keep it that way.
Image Source: Pixabay