The Handbook of Sports Medicine is an ongoing series of specialist reference volumes sponsored by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and designed specifically for the use of professionals working directly with competitive athletes.
The target groups for whom this handbook is written includes (1) interested medical doctors who have little or no training in sports medicine, as well as sports medicine professionals; (2) physiotherapists and other health-related professionals; (3) team coaches who have academic preparation in the basic sciences; and (4) knowledgeable gymnasts.
The purpose of this volume is to present a comprehensive, state-of-the-art description of the medical and scientific aspects of Olympic gymnastics sports.
Dennis Caine, Professor and Interim Dean College of Education and Human Development, University of North Dakota
Keith Russell, President Scientific Commission (FIG)
Liesbeth Lim, Former National Sports Physician of the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation, 1997–2012
One of the touring human anatomy exhibitions was visiting San Salvador. A few gymnastics coaches took in the show.
Always memorable and informative, this version (called “Our Body”) was smaller than the other two I’d seen in the past.
No gymnastics poses.
We took special notice of the width of the Achilles tendon. Very narrow on the corpses we saw.
USAG has appointed a new Medical Task Force. I’m sure Achilles injury will be on their agenda.
Dr. Jay Binder
Dr. George Drew
Dr. David Kruse
Dr. Larry Nassar
The areas the task force will review for best practices include:
“At risk” injuries and treatment, such as concussions, major long bone fractures and dislocations, major reconstructive surgeries, etc.
Medical team members’ responsibilities, including communicating with coaches and USA Gymnastics, obtaining appropriate referrals and follow-up care, and ethical obligations for addressing or reporting significant issues.
A quick look at that research and a few other sport science articles on the topic leads me to believe the headline overstates. There’s simply not enough research yet to determine risks / benefits conclusively.
Leave a comment if you are convinced not to ice for recovery.
Here are a couple of studies that may be of interest.
… sample consisted of 27 female gymnasts and 15 controls. …
… Sedentary adolescents show a higher prevalence of overweight, hypertension, osteopenia and final height prediction. In this particular group of athletes, competitive gymnastics influences body composition but does not appear to compromise nutritional status, normal progression of puberty, bone mass and genetically defined final height. …
It’s interesting and sometimes amusing to watch gymnastics coaches, especially in competition.
In preparation for his role in Stick It, Jeff Bridges studied American coaches at Junior Olympic competitions. And asked gymnasts, including Isabelle Severino, how he should act in certain situations.
Scientific research contends that “power posing” actually works. That you can “fake it until you BECOME it“.
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
Michele Ferrari … 10 July 2010 the US Anti-Doping Authority issued Ferrari a lifetime sports ban for numerous anti-doping violations including possession, trafficking, administration and assisting doping. …
… Usada said it “has found overwhelming proof that Dr Michele Ferrari facilitated doping for numerous members of the US Postal Service and Discovery.”
The report showed that Armstrong had paid more than $1m to a company controlled by the Italian and said that Armstrong had conceded he met Ferrari on a monthly basis. Riders testified that he supervised blood transfusions, EPO injections and the use of testosterone.
Ferrari was quoted as saying: “If I were a rider, I would use the products which elude doping controls if they helped to improve my performances.” …
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.