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Say what you will, but cheerleading isn't just about waving pompoms anymore. Combining advanced gymnastics with risky stunts like tossing and flipping girls in the air, cheerleading has become certainly as athletic and potentially as dangerous as other competitive sports.
"I cheered in the NFL for five years," says Karen Gordon, a former Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleader, "Not many people understand the amount of strain practice and games place on your body."
The Associated Press reports that cheerleading accounts for two-thirds of catastrophic injuries among high school girl athletes, "a number that hasn't decreased despite repeated attempts to make the sport less dangerous." Read the full story here.
"I've seen first-hand how ACL and ankle injuries can ruin your cheerleading career," says Gordon. "Countless girls misstep and injure themselves, never to return again."
The National Cheer Safety Foundation (NCSF) has proposed safety training initiatives for cheerleading athletes. The NCSF is recognizing March as National Cheer Safety Month and is attempting to raise awareness through Safety Ambassadors. The Foundation is actively collecting injury reports in order to determine all of the issues involved in cheerleading safety and working to resolve them.
"Anything that can help cheerleaders return or prevent injury would be a game changer for us," Gordon says.
Meantime, to reduce the incidence of cheerleading injuries, Topical Gear, an innovator in creating protective equipment for female athletes, has focused its efforts on keeping girls on the mat and "in the game." Cheerleaders can benefit from the following products, designed to protect specific parts of the female body:
ACL Tube: applies topical pressure on the medial quadriceps and hamstring muscles to provide stimulation and prevent ACL tears.
Pro Taco: the first fully functional ankle product. Its lightweight construction allows for full range of motion while simultaneously strengthening the athlete's tendons and ligaments.
photo credit: americancheerleadingsociety.com