Gymnastics injuries questionnaire

Fairly quick and easy to fill out, this survey from Oporto University is looking at injury patterns in our sport.

They would like gymnasts and former gymnasts to respond. If you are a former gymnast, answer the questions with data from when you were training competitively.

Click through to fill it out online:

Gymnastic injuries study

Thanks Lourenco.

about Foam Rolling

Dave Tilley:

… Foam rolling, lacrosse ball work, stick massages, and other tools are being seen all across practice and competition floors during warm-ups.

… People go crazy with polar opposites on this topic saying foam rolling is either a miracle or completely useless. Spoiler alert, it’s probably somewhere in the middle. I’m clearly more on the pro side …


Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery

Kohei – 2014 Floor

I’d argue Kohei Uchimura singled handedly reinvented how male gymnasts land.

Easily the best in the world in his prime, many emulated Kohei’s exaggerated technique.

I love it as he turned the science of safely reducing huge impact forces to zero into an art form.

At the same time WAG was foolishly deducting low chest position. Dangerous!

Of his many stuck routines over many years, Blythe chose this as one of her decade-defining routines.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

FIG should improve Vault landing mats

Does anyone have statistics on this?

I feel certain we are seeing more severe injuries on Vault landings, on average, than on any other apparatus.

I’d recommend FIG require a mat more like the safer one used by Trampoline sports on double-mini.

Eurotramp Double-Minitramp landing mat

Leave a comment if you have an opinion.

Achilles injury in NCAA

Achilles injury risk in women’s collegiate gymnastics is 10-fold higher than in all other collegiate sports. This study aims to identify risk factors for Achilles tendon ruptures in collegiate female gymnasts.

Gymnasts with Achilles tendon ruptures will be more likely to report early gymnastics specialization, elite-level training before college, and performance of high-difficulty skills on floor and vault. …

Factors Associated With Achilles Tendon Rupture in Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics

Dr. Sands on the “twisties”

The “twisties” phenomenon is real.

I’ve experienced it myself and have had several national team gymnasts who have gone through it as well.

I see two dangers:

(1) over medicalizing/psychologizing the issue and (2) giving an invisible symptom as a fairly easy excuse to avoid training and competing.

Medicalizing/psychologizing: this phenomenon is not a “mental health” problem. This is a problem of spatial orientation.

Unfortunately, we know too little about human spatial orientation to be very definitive.

I tried studying spatial orientation while at Utah because of this issue and the use of the term “blacking-out” to describe the same thing that too often occurs on the trampoline.

Unfortunately, a sport-oriented problem like this does not get funding.

While a magnified stress response may be a partial cause, I can tell you that you don’t have to be highly stressed to experience it.

Physicians studying trampoline injuries found that the majority of serious injuries occurred among highly trained athletes and dead-center in the middle of the bed (i.e., they didn’t fall off). The physicians indicated that they thought the trampolinist “blacked out.” However, there is no real loss of consciousness, just orientation.

Moreover, it can be scary as hell when it happens.

Spatial orientation while twisting and somersaulting can be a serious challenge to the integration of the vestibular apparatus, vision, and kinesthesis.

For example: if you stand upright and take your right arm, bend the elbow 90 degrees so that the hand is in front of you, and hold one finger so that it points upward; then rotate your hand in a largish horizontal circle keeping the finger pointing upward. Let’s say you decided to rotate the hand so that it makes a counterclockwise circle as you view it from above (looking down at the circle), if you keep the hand circling counterclockwise while you simultaneously raise your arm/hand so that it circles above your head you will note that the hand is now turning in a clockwise direction. Your brain knows the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise rotation, and you can probably picture that the somersaulting gymnast spins a twist in one direction while going from “right-side-up” to “upside-down” during a somersault. Combining the two orientations results in motor control problems like you experience when trying to rub you stomach and pat your head.

Blindfolded athletes can tell which direction they’re spinning (twisting) while standing upright. However, sometimes they have trouble telling such directions when they are inverted suddenly.

Obviously, a gymnast must pass from an upright body orientation to an inverted body orientation sometimes through two or three somersaults while twisting.

Finally, the loss of spatial orientation can be somewhat “sticky” and remain with an athlete from minutes to months.

Here are some references from work I did on spatial orientation:

via email
  1. Allard T. Perception and sport skill. Coaching Science Update: 52-55, 1981.
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  4. Bardy BG and Laurent M. How is body orientation controlled during somersaulting. J Exp Psychol 24: 963-977, 1998.
  5. Beck GR, Rabinovitch P, and Brown AC. Acceleration forces at eye level experienced with rotation on the horizontal bar. J Appl Physiol 46: 1119-1121, 1979.
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  8. Botkin M. Gymnasts aid NASA in research of space-age problem. USA Gymnastics July/August: 15-19, 1985.
  9. Bringoux L, Marin L, Nougier V, Barraud P-A, and Raphel C. Effects of gymnastics expertise on perception of body orientation in the pitch dimension. J Vestib Res 10: 251-258, 2000.
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  11. Courjon JH, Clement G, and Schmid R. The influence of interstimulus interval on the development of vestibular habituation to repeated velocity steps. Exp Brain Res 59: 10-15, 1985.
  12. Cratty BJ. Perception, in: Encyclopedia of sport sciences and medicine. LA Larson, ed. New York, NY: MacMillan, 1971, pp 998-999.
  13. Croix G, Chollet D, and Thouvarecq R. Effect of expertise level on the perceptual characteristics of gymnasts. J Strength Cond Res 24: 1458-1463, 2010.
  14. Danion F, Boyadjian A, and Marin L. Control of locomotion in expert gymnasts in the absence of vision. J Sports Sci 18: 809-814, 2000.
  15. Davlin CD, Sands WA, and Shultz BB. Peripheral vision and back tuck somersaults. Perceptual and Motor Skills 93: 465-471, 2001.
  16. Davlin CD, Sands WA, and Shultz BB. The role of vision in control of orientation in a back tuck somersault. Motor Control 3: 337-346, 2001.
  17. Davlin CD, Sands WA, and Shultz BB. Do gymnasts “spot” during a back tuck somersault. International Sports Journal 8: 72-79, 2004.
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  20. Dukalsky VV and Dukalsky AV. Use of a phonogoniometer and tilting device to teach diving. Yessis Review of Soviet Physical Education and Sports 12: 94-97, 1977.
  21. Gabriel JL. Additional spatial orientation references for competitive diving., 1989.
  22. Graybiel A and Clark B. Perception of the horizontal or vertical with head upright, on the side, and inverted under static conditions, and during exposure to centripetal force. Aerosp Med 33: 147-155, 1962.
  23. Graybiel A and Kellogg RS. Inversion illusion in parabolic flight: Its probable dependence on otolith function. Aerosp Med 38: 1099-1102, 1967.
  24. Grigg P. Peripheral neural mechanisms in proprioception. J Sport Rehab 3: 2-17, 1994.
  25. Guillot A and Collet C. Field dependence-independence in complex motor skills. Perceptual Motor Skills 96: 575-583, 2004.
  26. Hartmann M, Haller K, Moser I, Hossner EJ, and Mast FW. Direction detection thresholds of passive self-motion in artistic gymnasts. Exp Brain Res 232: 1249-1258, 2014.
  27. Hauw D and Durand M. Situated analysis of elite trampolinists’ problems in competition using retrospective interviews. Journal of Sports Science 25: 173-183, 2007.
  28. Heinen T. Evidence for the spotting hypothesis in gymnasts. Motor Control 15: 267-284, 2011.
  29. Heinen T, Jeraj D, Vinken PM, and Velentzas K. Rotational preference in gymnastics. Journal of human kinetics 33: 33-43, 2012.
  30. Henn V. Habituation and plasticity of the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Acta Oto-Rhino-Laryngology 30: 1-8, 1983.
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  32. Ivanenko YG, R., Israel I, and Berthoz A. Spatial orientation in humans: perception of angular whole body displacements in two dimensional trajectories. Exp Brain Res 117: 419-427, 1997.
  33. Ivanenko YP, Grasso R, Israel I, and Berthoz A. The contribution of otoliths and semicircular canals to the perception of two-dimensional passive whole-body motion in humans. J Physiol 502.1: 223-233, 1997.
  34. Jaslow H. Human tilt perception in a dynamic environment. Aviat Space Environ Med 50: 594-608, 1979.
  35. King Hogue M. Body awareness and spatial orientation, in: US Diving Safety Manual. JL Gabriel, ed. Indianapolis, IN: U.S. Diving Publications, 1990, pp 97-103.
  36. Krejcova H, Jer bek J, Bojar M, Tutzk E, Cerny R, and Polechov P. Influence of sports load on the vestibular apparatus, in: The Vestibular System: Neurophysiologic and Clinical Research. MD Graham, JL Kemink, eds. New York, NY: Raven Press, 1987, pp 133-139.
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  38. Lee DN, Young DS, and Rewt D. How do somersaulters land on their feet? J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 18: 1195-1202, 1992.
  39. Legge GE, Gage R, Baek Y, and Bochsler TM. Indoor Spatial Updating with Reduced Visual Information. PLoS One 11: e0150708, 2016.
  40. Luis M and Tremblay L. Visual feedback use during a back tuck somersault: evidence for optimal visual feedback utilization. Motor Control 12: 210-218, 2008.
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  42. Malcolm R and Melvill Jones G. Erroneous perception of vertical motion by humans seated in the upright position. Acta Otolaryngologica 77: 274-283, 1974.
  43. McCormick JH. The relationship between position sense and beginning diving ability. Indiana University, 1970, p P.E.D.
  44. Nobel CE. The perception of the vertical: III. The visual vertical as a function of centrifugal and gravitational forces. J Exp Psychol 39: 839-850, 1949.
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  48. Sands WA. Science puts the spin on somersaulting. RIP 2: 18-20, 1991.
  49. Sands WA. Spatial orientation while somersaulting. Technique 11: 16-19, 1991.
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  52. Schone H, ed. Spatial orientation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.
  53. Witkin HA and Asch SE. Studies in space orientation: III. Perception of the upright in the absence of a visual field. J Exp Psychol 38: 762-782, 1948.
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2. As for the malingering problem, I’m not sure where to go.

I definitely don’t have any magic fixes. However, too often I’ve found that when these symptoms arise, the athlete’s anxiety can certainly be blamed, but much of the anxiety comes from poor preparation.

I suspect that if athletes are prepared “better” there would be fewer such problems. Moreover, I’d like to encourage coaches to investigate the problem thoroughly before jumping to the idea that the athlete is lazy or unmotivated.

William A Sands, Ph.D., FACSM

Simone withdrew from Vault & Bars

MyKayla Skinner will replace her on Vault.

Melanie de Jesus dos Santos will go in on Bars.