The Surprising Health Risks Of Being A Gymnast

It's hard not to be fascinated by a gymnast's ability to leap, jump, and flip their way through a routine. It's also hard to watch a gymnast compete without noticing their toned and muscular physique. With their bulging biceps and toned six-packs, it seems like gymnastics is the way to go if you want to be healthy and fit. But gymnastics poses a lot of risks to the athlete and isn't the best option for everyone.

People competing in gymnastics are at a high risk of getting injured. This sport has one of the highest rates of injuries among girls, according to UPMC Sports Medicine. Because gymnasts use their entire bodies to perform their stunts, they are at risk of damaging virtually every part of their bodies. While minor injuries like bruises and scrapes are inevitable in most sports, serious injuries are relatively common in gymnastics. These can include wrist fractures, cartilage damage, finger and hand injuries, ankle sprains, Achilles tendon strains, and ACL tears, just to name a few.

Gymnasts work hard to perform their movements safely, but injuries can still happen. The repetitive movements completed while training can also result in overuse injuries like muscles strains and cartilage damage.

Gymnastics can also take a toll on an athlete's mental health

In addition to physical risks, it is important to note the psychological risks of getting into gymnastics. There is an immense amount of pressure to perform gymnastics movements perfectly in competition, which can put a great deal of stress on the athlete (via SportsRec). Those who are frequently competing may also spend less time with friends and family while focusing on their training. It's not uncommon to see coaches use abrasive teaching techniques that can harm a child's self-esteem as they are still learning about themselves.

Eating disorders are also common in gymnasts, especially in young women. The pressure of perfection in the sport often bleeds into body image as well. Many athletes feel like they need to remain thin and have very little body fat, which can lead to dangerous dieting habits. Eating disorders can lead to all sorts of health problems including heart issues, blocked intestines, hormone malfunction, neurological damage, and more (via National Eating Disorders Association). You can avoid many of these psychological issues by carefully selecting your child's gymnastics coach and making sure they are learning in a supportive environment.