… This is only my second day working on drills, not the actual skill. My coach wanted me to land on top of the bar, which I did, but… It kind looked like I was tasered… Enjoy laughing ’cause I know I sure did! …
The Chinese women’s gymnastics team was dealt a major blow on Thursday morning when four-time world champion Cheng Fei tore her Achilles tendon during a training session, rendering her unable to compete in the London Olympic Games. …
Team leader Ye Zhennan criticized the Games’ preference for high-difficulty routines, saying it’s the reason competitors get hurt more often.
… Ye wrote on his micro blog on Friday. “The development of the game’s difficulty has gone beyond the female athletes’ physical limits, causing a lot of injuries that will cut their careers shorts.”
Ye said FIG (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) should take Cheng’s injury seriously and revise its rules. …
Seems it takes a serious injury to a major player to get any attention from mainstream media. Gymnastics is dangerous. FIG’s new Code rewards most whomever has the highest start score. Many times that requires athletes to risk more dangerous routines.
I previously said there’s not much we can do to reduce Achilles injury. But perhaps I’m wrong. Here’s full commentary from Dr. Bill Sands on the topic:
I’m really sorry to see another ruptured Achilles tendon. Sadly, I do know the mechanism that causes these injuries …
I have a presentation that I hope to do at the USECA meeting at Congress. The research involving two types of springs is complete. One equipment company has taken the information and redesigned their floor due to the results that I shared with them some months ago.
Achilles tendon ruptures have occurred on foam and spring floors, so it’s not the spring system alone that “causes” the problem. And, herein lies much of the complexity. Again sadly, Achilles tendon ruptures are due to the interaction of “worn” connective tissues from the triceps surae group (e.g. too much training with insufficient recovery), concentration of forces in one of the bundles of connective tissues in the tendon (from Bruggemann, anatomical loading factors), foot position (increased pronation) during takeoff (athletes generally don’t take off symmetrically), and the way the spring floors recoil and move during a take off (causing sudden increased stretch of the triceps surae complex).
Interestingly, I had the first American girl to do a full-in on floor exercise (Christa Canary, I know ancient history) and she did it on two inches of ethafoam over concrete (I’m so old there were no spring floors then). In fact, with a lengthy list of excellent tumblers – I never had a single Achilles tendon rupture. However, we monitored training repetitions of skills very closely using (then) very primitive computers. In my view, there needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking to “preserve the skeleton and connective tissue while training the muscle.” Of course, there are a variety of ways to do this, but monitoring is crucial.
1. Sands WA. National women’s tracking program pt. 2 – response. Technique. 1990;10(1):23-7.
2. Sands WA. Fragen zum training der nationalmannschaft der US-Junioren (Frauen) im kunstturnen. In: Gohner U, editor. Leistungsturnen im kindesalter. Stuttgart, Germany: Internationaler Turnerbund (FIG) und das Organisationskomitee Weltmeisterschaften im Kunstturnen Stuttgart 1989; 1990. p. 81-96.
3. Sands WA. Monitoring the elite female gymnast. National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal. 1991;13(4):66-71.
4. Sands WA. Monitoring elite gymnastics athletes via rule based computer systems. Masters of Innovation III. Northbrook, IL: Zenith Data Systems; 1991. p. 92.
5. Sands WA. AI and athletics. PC AI. 1992;6(1):52-4.
6. Sands WA. How can coaches use sport science? Track Coach. 1995;134(winter):4280-3.
7. Sands WA. Monitoring power. In: Bardy BG, Pozzo T, Nouillot P, Tordi N, Delemarche P, Ferrand C, et al., editors. Actes des 2Šmes Journ‚es Internationales d’Etude de l’AFRAGA. Univerist‚ de Rennes, Rennes, France: L’Association Fran‡aise de Recherche en Activit‚s Gymniques et Acrobatiques (A.F.R.A.G.A.); 2000. p. 102.
8. Sands WA, editor. Monitoring gymnastics training. 3èmes Journées Internationales d’Etude de l’AFRAGA; 2002 7-9 November 2002
2002; Lille, France. Lille, France: AFRAGA.
9. Sands WA, Henschen KP, Shultz BB. National women’s tracking program. Technique. 1989;9(4):14-9.
10. Sands WA, Shultz BB, Newman AP. Women’s gymnastics injuries. A 5-year study. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 1993;21(2):271-6.
11. Sands WA, Stone MH. Are you progressing and how would you know? Olympic Coach. 2006;17(4):4-10.
12. Sands WA, Stone MH. Monitoring the elite athlete. Olympic Coach. 2006;17(3):4-12.
Interestingly, I co-hold a patent on a device to prevent extreme ankle dorsiflexion. Feel free to look it up and see if it might help your athletes. The device was required for some of my former gymnasts.
Patent Number #4,227,321. Device called the “Safe-T-Strap” designed to prevent extreme ankle dorsiflexion in gymnasts and other athletes.
I’ve been studying the spring floor now since about 1994, and even back then the old 2 inch spring floor showed the same problems. I will be submitting the results and manuscript for publication after Olympic Trials. The work includes high-speed video (500-2000 Hz), Vicon kinematics (200 Hz), and the accumulation of work from myself and others for almost 20 years.
Certainly, considerably more research remains to be done. I believe I know the mechanism, but then comes the hard part, how to change apparatuses to reduce or eliminate this problem.
Modeling is going to be needed, and my ability to do that level of work is very limited (I’m a physiologist, although most seem to think I’m a biomechanist). I hope that Maurice Yeadon, Peter Bruggemann, and Jeroen Van der Eb, along with the FIG Scientific Committee will take up this issue. This work is long overdue, and current means and methods of certifying a spring floor are pretty good for engineering, but do nothing to look at the athlete-apparatus interactions. I’ve been preaching this for almost 20 years now. But, then again, who listens to me.
While we await the prognosis and recovery of Olympic hopeful McKayla Maroney, I hear that Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie just suffered a possible concussion when his head hit the diving board while training in Madrid.
But he expects to be back for the Olympics.
Canadian Olympic Trampolinist Rosie MacLennan (Facebook) had a concussion some weeks ago. But is back in competition. Whew. … Rosie is awesome, by the way. (VIDEO)
We’re only just starting to understand concussion. As coaches we need do everything possible to reduce the risk of impact to the head.
INDIANAPOLIS, June 6, 2012 – As part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to promote a safe environment for athletes, the Board of Directors of USA Gymnastics recently adopted further policy changes regarding athlete participation in USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events.
Effective August 2012, the beginning of the next membership cycle, only member clubs or registered businesses of USA Gymnastics may apply for membership on behalf of an athlete. In addition, only member clubs or registered businesses may enter a team of athletes in USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events. …
Pertinent USA Gymnastics links:
Code of Ethics
Standard of Care
Participant Welfare Policy
Permanently ineligible members list
… “I’d like to applaud USA Gymnastics for the recent amendments to the Athlete Participation Policies,” said Julie Whitman, a former U.S. junior national team gymnast who told the Register and USAG officials that she was physically abused by (Doug) Boger more than 20 years ago. …
… Katherine Starr, founder of Safe4Athletes, a national advocacy organization dedicated to child athlete welfare, wants USAG to take an even stronger position toward gymnastics clubs, camps and businesses. …
Scott has been the most vocal critic in the mainstream media.
He points out a loophole in the new regs:
… The Orange County Register has learned that former U.S. Olympic coach Bela Karolyi and his wife Martha, the current U.S. women’s national team coordinator, continue to operate camps for young gymnasts that are not sanctioned by USAG, despite the national governing body’s efforts to encourage all gyms and coaches to become members and adhere to the safeguards. …
The Karolyi camps, Starr and others said, are a glaring example of how even with the new rule changes coaches and clubs can still operate outside USAG’s jurisdiction and safeguards. …
“These camps are not USA gymnastics sanctioned events as they are open to non-USA gym participants,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny told the Register. …
Martha Karolyi told the Register that the camps are not sanctioned because USAG rules do not require them to be registered with the organization.
But the camps’ non-sanctioned status and the Karolyis’ failure to register with USAG, former gymnasts and child sports advocates said, sets a poor and embarrassing example. …
More than 2,000 former NFL players filed a lawsuit this morning in Philadelphia, accusing the league of concealing information linking football-related injuries to long-term brain damage.
In the biggest sports lawsuit ever, the former players allege that the “NFL exacerbated the health risk by promoting the game’s violence” and “deliberately and fraudulently” misled players about the link between concussions and long-term brain injuries.
The NFL denies the claims, saying, “Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league’s many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.” …
Dr. Bill Sands is always doing this — stifling perfectly entertaining online debates with the facts.
Here’s an abstract of one of their newer publications looking at the official heights and weights of U.S. Olympic teams since 1956:
The lay press, scientists, and physicians appear to believe that gymnasts are continually getting smaller and that their “smallness” is a health risk.
PURPOSE: Assess the historical changes in the size and age of the U.S. Women’s Olympic teams from 1956 to 2008.
METHODS: The official records from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, of Olympic team members were assessed at two levels: 1) individual height, mass, age, and body mass index (BMI) and 2) the team performance scores and rankings.
Fourteen Olympic teams with a total of 106 team members, including the alternates, were included. Trend analyses were conducted using linear and polynomial models.
RESULTS: Simple linear correlations indicated that since 1956 height, mass, age, BMI, and team Olympic rank have been declining. However, 2nd order polynomial curve fits indicated that in the last four Olympic Games the members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Teams have been getting larger.
CONCLUSION: Women’s Olympic gymnasts were getting smaller through approximately the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then the size of these gymnasts has increased. The minimum age rule modifications may have played a role in athlete size changes along with a shift from former communist Eastern Bloc near dominance.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 May 29. [Epub ahead of print]
Historical Trends of the Size of U.S. Olympic Female Artistic Gymnasts.
Sands WA, Slater C, McNeal JR, Murray SR, Stone MH.
Source: Monfort Family Human Performance Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO.
In jock speak:
… the teams got continually smaller through the 80s and early 90s and then have been getting bigger ever since.
Interestingly, Olympic places and medals tends to follow the same trend. As the latter gymnasts got larger so did their medal count.