Gymnastics stems from the times of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks where the beginnings of the sports were utilized to provide discipline and conditioning for men training for war. Gymnastics has evolved into a demanding, multifaceted sport. Gymnastics has been a popular sport over time and has continued to grow in popularity with increased publicity given to the sport at events such as the summer Olympic games.

Gymnastics has six major disciplines: men’s artistic gymnastics, women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic sportive gymnastics, sport aerobics, trampoline sports, and general gymnastics. In each discipline, there are three main levels of gymnastics activity: recreational, competitive, and elite. Children and adolescents make up the great majority of the participants in gymnastics. Competitive gymnastics places a very high toll on participants with elite gymnasts training between 20 and 40 hours per week, year round, often from a very young age (5 to 6 years of age). It is not uncommon to find competitive children practicing gymnastics both before and after school each day of the week.

Gymnastics requires a combination of speed, strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, and power. Gymnasts obtain 80–90% of their energy needs from anaerobic sources due to the short duration of their routines in competition.

Gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates and highest catastrophic injury rates of all sports. This is related to the increasingly high level of training, difficulty of skills practised, and long practice times. Long practice times and increased activity levels after periods of enforced breaks are associated with increased injury rates. The duration and frequency of workouts in clubs with high injury rates have been shown to be significantly greater than in those
with no injuries (20–30 hours a week v 4–6 hours a week). Long practice sessions on a single apparatus and lapses in concentration are felt to be key factors associated with gymnastics injury. Strength and conditioning programs may help to reduce the risk of gymnastics injury, but it should always be considered that a fatigued gymnastics who continues practicing is at higher risk of injury. Fatigue, loss of concentration and inattentiveness are associated with gymnastics injury.

Injury prevention in gymnastics begins with maintaining the gymnasts overall general conditioning, warming up, maintaining flexibility and appropriate cool downs after practice and competition. Gymnasts and coaches must avoid long practice sessions which lead to poor concentration and fatigue, both of which are associated with increased injury risks.

Gymnasts are at high risk of injury to the ankles, knees, low back, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Wrist injuries are common and even without specific injury the growth plates in young gymnasts are subject to growth plate injuries from repetitive loads. Young gymnasts with any wrist pain should discontinue any activity that puts stress on the wrist until they are painfree.

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