Conditioning For Injury Prevention

Preventative maintenance

Injuries in gymnastics do occur, but they can be minimized by conditioning specific muscle groups.

Wrists - Our wrists were not designed to do what we gymnasts use them for. Some strengthening is called for to prepare them for the abuse. All exersizes should be worked with both arms.
  • Find a racket ball, tennis ball, or one of those stress ball thingys and squeeze repeatedly until your forearm is tired.
  • Set a newspaper on a table. Place your hand palm down near one corner and crumple it page by page with your fingers.
  • With a dumbell in each hand "nod" your hand both palm up and palm down.
  • In a push up position push down with your figertips so your palms come off the ground.
  • Tie one end of a reasonably strong string to a 3/4" to 1 1/2" rod. Tie the other end to a 2-5 pound weight. Hold the dowel in both hands with your arms straight in front of you. Roll the dowel till the weight is against it, then roll it back down slowly. Do this both palms up and down.
  • Wrist push ups, palms down - Hold a prone support (either on knees or feet). Press fingertips into the ground to elevate the palms. Repeat to fatigue.
  • Wrist push ups, palms up - Start this exercise with little to no weight on your hands until you have established base strength and mobility to perform it without injury. Kneel, place fists on the floor just in front of your knees, palms facing together. Roll both hands outward to support on the backs of your hands. Press back onto your fists minimizing arm utilization, focusing on wrist articulation.
Ankles/lower leg - Yet another joint we push beyond design specs.
  • Walk around on your heels with straight legs. Tighten your quads. You will feel a burn on the outside of your shins. This helps prevent shin splints. DON'T do this if you already have bad shin splints. Let them heal first.
  • Every time you do toe raises, turn around and place your heel on the step, then lift your toes and go back down. This will strengthen the anterior tibialis which will help prevent shin splints.
  • Similar to the above. Repeatedly lift your toes off the ground.
  • Get surgical tubing or a theraband. Attach one end to a fixed object the other end to your foot. Work all four directions of flex. In, out, up and down.
Shoulders - Rotator cuff injuries are reasonably common, especially among male gymnasts.
  • Get out your stretch tubing, or theraband. Work all for flex directions(in, out, up, down) with straight arms. Use low resistance high reps.
  • Hold your arm at your side bent at a 90 degree angle so your hand sticks straight out. Work rotations in and out with the tubing.