Gymnastics is a challenging sport that can really put a human body through its paces. No matter how careful a gymnast is or how soft and padded the equipment is to protect a gymnast… accidents can still occur.
The most common injuries we see in Gym’s as coaches are rips on our little gymnast’s hands. Even the most veteran of gymnasts are still susceptible to rips and tears. Unfortunately, those nice grips won’t entirely stop it either. They will however, remove some of the friction off the gymnast’s hands and onto the leather strap instead.
A trip and a fall over a crash mat could also result in a carpet burn on a knee or an elbow. As well as all the tiny mystery bruises that will appear overnight… and you’re not quite sure where they came from.
These are what we will call “minor injuries” for the sake of this blog post.
A rolled or twisted ankle in another injury that we can try our bests to avoid but can still occur, despite our best efforts.
This we will consider as a “moderate injury”.
Breaks, fractures and ligament ruptures will be considered as a “major injury.”
We can all agree that injuries are terrible, and we wouldn’t wish that on any athlete or gymnast. However, injuries are the reality for most athletes.
Yet there is always a positive outlook to be found… but “where is the positive in an injury” I hear you ask! Let me explain.
An injury is a direct result of some form of “trauma”. Either it be a bump, scrape, or something else entirely. The injury could be related to a training program, a gymnast’s technique, a body’s strength or flexibility as well as the warm up and cool downs. By identifying the cause, steps can be taken to PREVENT the injury from reoccurring.
This is how injuries can be a gift in disguise. It allows time to identify physical weaknesses or improvements that can be made to a gymnast's technique. As well as allowing for personal growth, and the opportunity to become more aware of your body.
Let’s use a hypothetical story to help explain this further!
Hannah is an adult gymnast who has been training for a few years, and she has been working hard on her bars routine. She is comfortable in all her skills and is going through her regular training process. One of Hannah’s favorite skills is a cast to handstand. Hannah casts into her handstand with a bit of effort and manages to complete her routine.
After her routine, she notices her shoulder is a little bit tender when she raises her arm but continues with all her other training.
The next day her arm is very tired, and she finds it difficult to hold anything heavy on that side.
She goes to a physical therapist who has a look and determines that she has an imbalance in her Anterior Deltoids on both arms. Which is causing her to push into her handstand, with more body weight on one side which is only encouraging the weaker muscles to stay “dormant”, so to speak. This is what has caused her injury.
She is advised to take some time off from training, and the physical therapist recommends some strengthening and conditioning exercises that will help Hannah to repair and to prevent any further injury.
Unfortunately, it took an injury to occur for Hannah to find out this information. However, on the positive side Hannah is now able to identify her strengths and her weaknesses and take all steps necessary to improve her gymnastics.
What do you think of today’s blog post? Have you had a positive outcome after a sports related injury?
Signing off for now,
No Coach Thomas's were harmed in the taking of this image.
Ah gymnastics. How graceful, strong and impressive it is… until a gymnast takes a tumble and then maybe not so much? Or maybe it still is.
Behind every well executed skill, are dozens if not hundreds of falls, slips and blunders.
Before a skill can be mastered… its critical a gymnast knows how to FALL out of the skill. Every skill is going to place them in a slightly different body position to a previous skill learnt. With that body position change, comes weight distribution changes and change of balance.
This means there are going to be numerous ways to fall out of a skill.
The better prepared your gymnast is to safely fall out of a skill, the better!
Safety Rolls allow gymnasts to absorb the impact of a fall over a larger surface area of their bodies. Allowing for a smooth, and a “stress free” recovery. The gymnast should roll in the direction of their movement – forwards or diagonally, backwards or sideways – instead of fighting to suddenly stop the momentum.
Behind every safe fall is a technique used to protect a gymnasts limbs, head, neck and joints.
For a Gymnast, a fall can be a make or break when it comes to developing a Mental Block. A fall can have a negative effect on skill development and can take a longer duration to recover from.
I believe it would be fair to say that for the most part, a Gymnast is more fearful of the fall than they are to learn a skill. The skill is a known, you can see it demonstrated… understand its movements. What is unknown, is what it will be like to fall from it.
The human brain will create new neurological pathways as your gymnasts learns and explores different outcomes. Each slip, stumble or miss… is critical for their gymnastics journey.
Learning to fall safely is a SKILL FOR LIFE. Learning safe falls now, might just help them later in life.
“Falls are a major health issue in the community with around 30% of adults over 65 experiencing at least one fall per year” – Australian & NZ Falls Prevention Society
Here is a video of some SAFE falls in action:
Had you ever considered falls to be an art form of gymnastics? Do you have an experience with a fall in the Gym you'd like to share? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Signing off for now,
Did you know that FCGC offers free classes for children who are not yet walking? We believe that this stage of development in a child’s life is so fundamental that every parent deserves access to education to give their baby the best chance. So why not pop down on a Tuesday from 12.30-1pm and join us to learn!?
1 – Get them standing
Baby’s from around the age of 4 months will be able to support themselves with their legs when held upright. This a great way to start building the strength needed through the hips and legs and also promotes mental stimulation. Children learn by looking, while standing babies are able to see things from a different level and are encouraged to learn.
2 - Playing with others
Children learn by watching. The more you can get your little one around children who are a little bit older and more physically advanced the sooner your will wanting to catch up and join in. Before you know it, they will be pulling themselves to stand trying to catch up with the older kids.
3 – Work to play
Rather than making play time simple by handing a toy to your child place it on a secure and reachable height. This will encourage your child to pull themselves up to be able to gain access to the toy. Start with a low surface and gradually build up the height over time.
4 – Squatting is key
Children have a beautiful squat but it something they tend to lose over time. By encouraging your baby to squat down when picking something up you will be fostering the development of leg, hip and core muscles that are all required for walking.
5 – Barefoot baby
Sensory activation is key when it comes to walking. Your child needs to be able to feel the floor underfoot to appropriately adjust their balance. Difference surfaces require your baby to engage their body in different ways. So, when they can’t feet what is underfoot it hinders their learning process.
6 – Music and Rhythm
Children love to move to music, so where possible pump those tunes and dance with your baby. You will notice your little one will do a lot of bouncing up and down which will only continue to help strengthen the muscles needed for walking. The earlier children can understand rhythm the better of their walking will be. When your child is ready to walk they will mostly likely take uneven steps and not have a pattern to their movements. But with the assistance of music we can encourage baby to walk with a rhythmical quality which will increase balance and overall stability.
This might seem like a logical one but is missed by many. Crawling is a key developmental millstone not only for walking but for many other daily activities such a writing, eating and other gross motor activities. If your baby is starting to take some steps but hasn’t crawled yet get down on the floor with them and crawl around, turn it into a game. The benefits will be monumental.
8 – Cruising
Cruising is explained simply by a child walking with assistance of something like furniture. These may be the first few wobbly steps you see your little one taking and will be a big benefit in building up their confidence to one day take these steps independently.
9- Offer the right physical support and assistance
As adults out first thought of how to offer assistance is often to hold our little one’s hand, but did you know that there are other options that will benefit you child more? Support you child from around the chest/underarms will actually allow them to engage their core and center their own weight meaning they can learn to balance themselves. By holding hands, we allow the child to lean their weight onto us meaning they are not balanced just supported.
10- Always encourage
You baby will always want to continue trying an activity if you are excited and encouraging about it. By being their biggest cheerleader, you are actually helping them develop in ways you may not even know. So continue to offer encouragement every time you little one is up on their feet.
If you have any tips for helping little ones walk for the first time, email them through to me so we care share them with the wider community – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for my next blog – “The power of play”
We have asked our fantastic Alison to write a blog post for you all today!
Communication. We all use it. Either verbally, digitally or visually. Yet how often do we stop to think about the words we use to communicate?
Communication by its definition is: “The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium” – English Oxford Living Dictionaries.
With the introduction of computers, the internet & mobile phones have provided us with many more opportunities to obtain and share information than there once was.
Regardless of the method we use, the way we communicate our information can positively or negatively impact our daily relations both personally or in the Gym.
With face to face communication, factors such as the way we listen, how we use our voice and body language can influence whether our communication interactions are positive or negative.
Positive communication experiences enhance our sharing of ideas and enables us to be open to others views and challenge opinions. This in turn allows the acceptance and development of ideas, as well as the introduction and or growth of new ideas, work practices and lifestyle choices.
Listening is an important part of communication! Receiving the information is just as important as sending it.
Showing that you are actively listening by asking questions, offering suggestions and being open to others opinions keeps everyone engaged in the topic. We can practice active listening by waiting for others to finish speaking and by paraphrasing what has been said. This helps to clarify what has been heard and understood.
Body language including position of arms, eye contact, facial expressions and the way we stand can impact the way we communicate. To enhance open and equal communication, we should practice being relaxed with a calm voice, an open body (arms not crossed), facing the person and maintaining eye contact.
Listening and body language are just some tools that we can practice to support positive communication to promote open discussion, respect and support.
By practicing positive communications and sharing these methods helps us to grow in our ideas and be open to change and development... both personally or in the Gym!
Here is a Positive Language Exercise you might like to try:
What did you think of today's blog post? Let us know in the comments below.
-Yes, you did read that correctly. It’s also entirely accurate.
However, we don’t sit your little gymnasts down in the gym with a large text book on The Laws of Physics and ask them to “turn to page 203”.
Instead we are using Physical Sciences and Bio-mechanics to help teach your gymnast every time they do a roll, tumble, cartwheel, somersault or bar skill. Or maybe I should say, they are teaching themselves to be Physicists.
This is likely something that has never crossed your mind before, so let’s break it all down so we can understand together how and why Gymnastics is teaching your gymnasts Physics.
Let’s introduce you to some very close friends of a Gymnast: Velocity, Rotation, Momentum and Mass. These aspects of Physics are the driving forces behind everything you see in Gymnastics.
Expecting a gymnast to remember all the technical terms or being able to explain them isn’t crucial. However, without their knowing, they are learning to understand how they are applied to their actions and motion any time they do literally anything.
Every time they walk, they are learning how to adjust their Center of Mass. Whenever they run and must suddenly stop, they are making tiny corrections from their heads down to their toes that will affect their Center of Mass and Velocity.
In Gymnastics it is the same techniques but applied on a much bigger scale. As we all are aware, there are many apparatus’s and skills involved in Gymnastics and they all require a particular formula to be applied to get the desired result.
For example, when a Gymnast leaves the mat they have applied an angular momentum from their push-off. Once they have left the mat, the momentum cannot be changed. However, the Gymnast may be required to change the speed of their rotation while moving through the air.
Ok sounds simple enough, right? But how can they alter the speed of their rotation without pushing off an object? Simple. They can achieve this by changing their Centre of Mass from the axis of rotation. The Angular Momentum can be increased or decreased by compressing or expanding the distance between the Mass and the Axis of Rotation.
What I am REALLY saying is, the tighter the gymnast tucks… the faster they will rotate.
It might all seem a bit much and daunting, but that's ok! Our bodies are wonderful machines that can learn, adapt and apply these physics almost instantaneously.
Here is an informative video by Stephanie McGregor who is a Bio-engineering Major as well as a College Gymnast.
It is a fun video to watch, that will help to explain things a little further while demonstrating some very impressive Gymnastics Skills:
What did you think of today’s blog? Did you learn anything new?