Whether it's the satisfaction of a well-done routine or the thrill of spinning around the uneven bars, gymnastics is a challenging, fun sport and a great way to stay in shape.
To help keep things safe during practice and competition, follow these tips.
Safe Gymnastics Gear
What gear is needed depends on the event (uneven bars, floor routine, balance beam, etc). Safety items include:
Wrist straps, guards, and grips. Male gymnasts use these on the still rings, high bar, and parallel bars and female gymnasts wear them on the uneven bars. They improve a gymnast's hold on the apparatus and prevent blisters on the hands. Most grips consist of a piece of leather attached to a wrist strap. Other options include wrapping the hands in sports tape or gauze. Gymnasts, especially beginners, should use grips, tape, or gauze to protect their hands from blistering and tearing.
Footwear. Shoes for doing the vault usually have a reinforced toe to help absorb the pressure of landing. Some gymnasts wear gymnastic shoes with rubber soles to protect against slipping while on the balance beam.
Spotting belts. Spotting belts hook into cables that are attached to the ceiling. They support gymnasts while they are learning a new move or practicing something difficult.
Safe Gymnastics Practice and Competition
To stay safe while practicing and competing, gymnasts should:
Know the team plan for emergencies. This includes calling 911 for a head, neck, or back injury and NOT moving the hurt gymnast.
Gymnastics is an excellent way to stay fit. But just as in dancing, cheerleading, and ice skating, there's lots of pressure to stay thin. This puts gymnasts at risk for eating disorders. Eating disorders can lead to serious health problems.
Coaches and parents should promote healthy eating and know the warning signs of eating disorders. Dealing with an eating disorder early makes it easier for a person to recover.