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Back pain and prevention

Discussion in 'Coach Forum' started by cftmoonlight, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. cftmoonlight

    cftmoonlight Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    What kinds of things do you all do to prevent the dreaded phrase, "my back hurts"? We do tons of soft landings, we have changed our warm up and stretches, limited back arching skills and have a physical therapy assistant doing exercises with them, and yet it persists! Any ideas?
     

  2. Aussie_coach

    Aussie_coach Moderator/Coach Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Gymnast Club Owner

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    Be very wary of hip flexor and shoulder flexibility. No matter how good the gymnast is, if it looks like these things will be a problem, we don't accept thengymnast onto team. If their shoulders and hip flexor should are not flexible enough, when they do skills like walkovers they will put a lot more load on their lower backs. Compulsory routines will make it so yiu can't avoid them altogether.

    Develop this flexibility well, even a handstand will be a problem in the lower back if they shoulders lack flexibility.
     
  3. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    It's unfortunate, but true. We have a PT come to the gym every few months and I think all of the girls who see him regularly for back pain have limited flexibility in one or both of those areas. All of the girls have also seen a decrease in flexibility with age which has exacerbated the problem.
    I've tried doing some stuff from the Shift movement blog with some of these kids, but I've found that there just isn't enough time to make sure they are getting done at all, let along getting done the correct way. I imagine this is made slightly better if you have a PT on staff or who comes in weekly to check in.
     
    Chalky likes this.
  4. Aussie_coach

    Aussie_coach Moderator/Coach Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Gymnast Club Owner

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    It is never easy as a coach. I have parents ask why their kid is not on team, when they have just as many skills as the kids chosen, and I have to tell them their kid won’t be considered because they are naturally very tight, and once we put them in the team environment and they are building muscle every day, and doing high numbers of skills, which they will have to do incorrectly to compensate for their lack of flexibility it won’t be a matter of if they get hurt, it will be a matter of when.

    Research shows that the window of opportunity for developing flexibility opens at around 5 years of age and closes by age 8. Kids can still develop flexibility after that age of course, but it’s a whole lot harder.
     

  5. cftmoonlight

    cftmoonlight Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    I've been coaching levels 3 thru 10 for 20 years and never seen a string of back injuries like the last few months! So frustrating. Add that to a few other bad luck injuries and I feel like running for the hills...
     
  6. coachp

    coachp Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Parent

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    Just a thought but maybe you have an epidemic of kids using this excuse to get out of a skill or work? I am going off of your "never seen a string"
     
  7. coachmolly

    coachmolly Verified Coach Verified Coach Former Gymnast

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    I had a spell in the spring/early summer where it felt like one thing after another seemingly out of nowhere, hopefully this too shall pass. How old are the kids? the kids in my group that fell prey to injuries were all in the 10-11 range and I'm sure growth spurts played a huge part. Not surprisingly the 2 kids who seemed to have the most trouble ended the summer as the tallest on the team. So if your girls are at an age where kids tend to hit a major growth spurt, it could be at least part of the problem.
    The big kids at our gym (8th grade and up) are currently in the middle of a long string of injuries and I think a lot of that has been that they haven't kept up with their conditioning. They are doing the same strength they did as much lower level athletes but are now much bigger and doing much harder skills and it's just not working. But from what I know about you and your coaching experience, I don't imagine this is the problem for your kids.
    Has anything else changed in your training? New equipment? More hard landings? More kids doing a specific skill that you hadn't done much of previously? It could also be the power of suggestion like Coachp mentioned. They see that Kid A gets out of XYZ because she's injured (a certain skill, event, competing, etc.- could be something different for each kid) and decide that they too want that and have whatever previously insignificant ache or pain they had suddenly becomes a major concern. It's definitely bizarre that it's the same body part causing the problem.
    Maybe a PT could come watch a practice and consult with the kids and then fill you in on some common themes he/she is seeing? I wonder if looking at things from a non-coaching perspective could make a difference.
     
  8. cftmoonlight

    cftmoonlight Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    I do think a bit of paranoia has set in, and the kids are bit wary of any pains.
     
  9. cftmoonlight

    cftmoonlight Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    We had a big gymnastics doc come in, he gave us a few minor ideas, but said he thought we were doing things right. Every event has pit and resi landings, and we use those a lot. I can't pinpoint anything new skillwise. They are all 12-14 so I know growing is a part of it. Hoping this too shall pass! Thanks all.
     
  10. Aussie_coach

    Aussie_coach Moderator/Coach Staff Member CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Gymnast Club Owner

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    11-13 is generally the most vulnerable time for girls, when it comes to injuries. It’s a combination or growth, puberty, body changes and changes in their attitudes and thinking.

    Sometimes it does happen, and yiu get a string of injuries, and as a coach it feels even more that way. It’s natural to feel guilty and wonder what we are doing wrong as coaches to cause these problems.

    There are many ways that injuries can be turned around to become more positive experiences.

    1. A great learning tool for coaches. If whenever a gymnast gets injured you go through why it happened and work with a PT. You get the chance to learn more strategies and gain a deeper understanding.

    2. A great learning tool for gymnasts. If thy work closely with a PT they learn more about how their bodies work. They also learn how to deal with and work through injuries and come through on the other side.This is important for any athlete.

    3. A chance to build strength and flexibility. Injuries kids won’t get to do full training sessions so they will be spending more time conditioning than usual. They may come back stronger than they ever would have if they didn’t have the injury.

    4. A chance to work on weak areas. I have had kids with lower limb injuries become incredible at bars and handstanding as it’s all they could do. I have had kids with upper extremity injuries become incredible at leaps, jumps, turns, punching, aerials and saltos.

    5. A chance to attack their own personal weaknesses. Injuries are often caused by a particular weakness that gymnast has, be it proprioception of landing, a specific strength weakness, uneven muscle development etc. The injury highlights this problem and through the PT, they can work to solve it, which will result in them being a far better gymnast in the end.

    6. A chance to learn new skills. We are forced to compromise their regular skill work, and we often can teach our injuries athlete something new and different that they might never have learned otherwise to replace skills they can’t do.
     
    Aero and Alie21 like this.
  11. Faith

    Faith Coach Coach Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    Is it possible to have a pars stress fracture and it heal while training is continued?

    I am also seeing a "string" of back problems in one of our squads, Mri/x rays have apparently come back clean in a couple, and one has an "old" stress fracture and has been told training is OK, despite the pain. They're 12-15.

    i don't coach this group so am not close enough to ask for details, whether they've seen an ortho with gymnastics experience, whether they have had private or NHS care- as fantastic as our NHS is, I think you'd have to hunt good and proper for any doc with experience and knowledge of gymnastics injuries, let alone spondy. I've read here that stress fractures can be difficult to pick up?
     
  12. cftmoonlight

    cftmoonlight Verified Coach Verified Coach Proud Relative Former Gymnast

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    That sounds similar to our story, especially with the difficutly in diagnosing fractures. So frustrating.
     

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