Dr. Michael Michlitsch of Muir Orthopaedic Specialists discusses ways to prevent injuries while cheerleading.
Question: How do we prevent injuries while cheerleading?
Answer: Injuries to those athletes on the sidelines often don’t get mentioned. However, there are more than 3.5 million cheerleaders in the United States, and they can suffer injuries, often rather severe ones to the wrists and shoulders, knees and ankles, and head and neck. Stunt restrictions can reduce the number and severity of catastrophic injuries. Such safety measures, such as height restrictions in human pyramids, improvements in the thrower to flyer ratio, and increasing the number of spotters for each individual above shoulder level are routinely in place. Basket toss stunts – where the cheerleader is thrown into the air – should have no more than four throwers and the flyer – that’s the cheerleader being thrown – should not drop the head below the horizontal line of the torso, going backwards like that. A spotter should always remain behind the flyer. Proper training and conditioning is also critical, and some precaution taken or some stunts not attempted in inclement weather.