Gymnastics is a fun sport for kids, but like other sports, it can lead to injuries. Due to the unique physical demands of gymnastics, wrist sprains are a common injury. Here are three things parents of gymnasts need to know about wrist sprains.
How does gymnastics cause wrist sprains?
In other popular sports—like soccer or basketball—the legs do most of the hard work. Gymnastics is much different in that the upper body is used very frequently. In fact, the wrists are the most commonly used body part in gymnastics.
When your child does a hand stand, cartwheel or flip, their wrists need to handle forces that can equal twice their body weight. Routines that make use of the uneven bars also put a lot of strain on the wrists. They may also sprain their wrist if they land poorly or fall while at practice.
What are the signs of wrist sprains?
A wrist sprain occurs when the ligaments inside the wrist become damaged. In mild sprains, the ligaments are only stretched, but in severe strains, they can become torn. This leads to pain and swelling in the wrist. Your child also won't be able to use their wrist normally, which can make daily activities difficult. They also won't be able to put any weight on their injured wrist, so they won't be able to participate in gymnastics until they've healed.
How are wrist sprains treated?
The treatment for a sprained wrist varies depending on its severity. If your child's ligaments are stretched, not torn, rest may be all that's needed. They'll need to take a break from gymnastics, and their doctor may even immobilize their wrist in a soft cast to make sure they won't injure it further.
If the ligament is completely torn, surgery may be needed to stitch it back together, while partial tears may heal on their own with time and rest. Afterwards, they may need to attend physiotherapy sessions to allow their wrist to heal properly.
Physiotherapy may include simple exercises like flexing the wrist or squeezing a stress ball. These exercises can help your child regain the flexibility and strength that they need to be able to go back to gymnastics. The physiotherapist may also use gymnastics-specific exercises to ensure that your child is fully prepared for a return to sports.
If you think your child sprained their wrist at gymnastics, take them to an urgent care clinic, such as Meadowbrook Urgent Care, right away for treatment.