dealing with pain

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New Member
May 13, 2008
I really need to see other people's opinions on this! So please read and reply!! Thanks!!

I was going to post this in the Coaches section, but i realized i would also like opinions from current gymnasts, former gymnasts, and parents too.

How do you respond to a gymnast who comes to you mid-practice and says "My *insert body part here* hurts." or "It hurts when I do a *insert certain skill or conditioning exercise*" Have you ever not believed the gymnast (thought she was just trying to get out doing something) and made her do it anyways? Can you tell when they're serious and when they're faking? Do you tell her to just suck it up? (please list the levels you coach when you reply)

Do you ever fake an "injury" and/or pretend something hurts when it doesn't just to get out of doing a certain skill, conditioning exercise, or event? If so, why? And have you ever had a coach who didn't believe you when you said it hurt to do something and it actually did hurt? If so, how did it make you feel? (please list the level you are or were in when replying)

Has your DD ever come home complaining of pain and saying "coach wouldn't believe me and he/she made me keep going". How did you deal with it the next time you took her to the gym? Yell at the coach, talk to the owner, or tell your DD to push through the pain? (please list the level of your DD when replying)

Ahh, i was going to explain why i want y'alls opinins on this and also share my view with y'all too, but i have to be somewhere right now... so i'll come back later and write a reply w/ my opinions.

I'm really looking forward to hearing everyone's view on this issue!


May 26, 2008
It's not exactly what you asked, but I know of a girl who was really whiny. She was a level 7 at this time. The coaches didn't believe her because she always complained. At one meet she landed a layout on floor and then started crying and acting like she was hurt. She didn't visible hurt anything so nobody believed her. It turns out she fractured her ankle.

I think coaches don't believe certain people if they are always complaining about something. The truth is gymnastics just hurts sometimes.


I just started gym and haven't been hurt yet (and hopefully won't ever be), but I'm wondering about the opposite problem of what CoachCatt posted. How many gymnasts don't complain or don't tell anyone when they are hurt, because they fear being told that they can't train or can't compete. I know my ex-gf did that once and her parents got mad at her when she finally told them about it and they found out she knew about the injury for a week and didn't tell them until it got much worse. She told them she didn't tell them because she thought the doctors would be overly cautious and pull her out and it was right before a big meet. She was a first year Level 8 at the time.


To answer your coach question, I work with mainly schoolage and younger team gymnasts(level 3-5). The team girls especially are often complaining of injuries, often because they are tired or just don't feel like doing something. Depending on the individual girl, I will try to do something different. For some, I say, just try it, and if it hurts too much, stop. For those who do have some sort of injury, but don't want to waste a workout, I give some type of conditioning while the rest of the group is working on something that would hurt them. For others, just asking if they want me to call home so they can be picked up early will get them on the right track Those who are serious accept the offer, and those who are faking get back into the practice. It's worked for me so far.

To answer your gymnast question, no! I am headed into my second year level seven, and have never ever feigned an injury. I am more the type NYgymfan described. I am always pushing myself to work hard. During track season where I would do a 3.5 hour track workout and then try to go right to a 3 hour gym practice, my gym coaches have even had to send me home early, when they could tell I was too exhausted and working myself too hard. I do however believe I've gotten a lot better at knowing my body as I've gotten older. I can tell the difference between just being sore and something requiring more rest. When I was younger(7 years ago), I remember competing on a sprained ankle. Now if I'm worried about fatigue or risking injury, I will usually skip a practice, or go, but let my coach now that I am not quite right and would like to take it slowly. She's known me and worked with me for about 8 years, and trusts my decision making.
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Active Member
Aug 27, 2006
My level 5 dd does come to me mid practice and will complain about something hurting and I always send her back to the coach or ask if she needs Ibuprofin or something she always has aches and pains but also has a high pain tolerance(she walked on a extremely bad spain almost 2 days before she couldnt walk at all) and doesnt want to slow down for things. So I need to take her pain seriously. Her coach always tells the girls to TELL HER if something hurts rather than wait and let her decide what needs to be done. I will tell the coach if dd has lingering pain before practice so she is aware and can work something out with her pain management wise.


I have twin level 5\6, they are 7. One takes pain much better than the other. Lexi will cry if she hurts her wrist or ankle...etc. Leah can peel off the bar, sprain an ankle and keep going (or try) Our coaches are not that harsh but not too sweet either. They tell the girls to do what they can and if it hurts you can ice but still condition, like if one of the girls hurt their ankle, they climb the rope. Hurt their wrists, sqauts. I figure they know what the coaches are doing and know what they girls can handle so I leave it up to them. If it's serious then I will get beyond involved LOL;)


Moderator/Proud Parent
Aug 25, 2007
North Carolina
My dd seems to have phases where she seems to come out every 15min. w/ something hurting.

She did come home from practice upset on Thursday because she told her coach that her wrists hurt doing bars (bars is one of her fave's) and the coach did not believe her and made her keep going.

I can see where she might not since she was already complaining on Thursday. I would think it would be hard to tell sometimes.


Active Member
Former Gymnast
Jun 24, 2008
I normally coach L3-6, although I've done my fair share of L7 beam/floor. You know the girls' personalities, you know what they're afraid of, and you know if they're complainers. My reaction would probably depend on the timing (is it right before state? during the summer?), the girl's body language, and a combination of the above factors. If I know that a girl is afraid of a skill or drill, and a body part suddenly starts hurting, of course that's suspicious. On the other hand, I'm much more likely to believe a girl who never complains. For the ones in the middle, you just use your best judgment. If I'm suspicious that a girl is faking, I would usually give her an option of doing 2-3 more of whatever she was doing or an assignment that she dislikes (say, stuck full turns in a row on beam). This really doesn't happen that at my gym, though. Bathroom breaks seem to be a more common way of trying to avoid skills than faking injuries.

When I was a L8 (13), I developed a herniated disk in my back, thanks to the owner of my former gym kicking me out of practice every time I refused to do something because my back hurt and then lying to my parents about why I was having so many issues. I always got in trouble with my parents when I got kicked out, and my pain tolerance is through the roof, so I never complained about my back to them (didn't want to sit out and had missed most of the last season due to a different injury). I ended up working out on it for 2 years until part of my leg went numb and I couldn't sit comfortably. I don't fake injuries in the gym since it's a waste of my time. Most older optionals work out with aches and pains; it's unusual to find someone who doesn't hurt somewhere!


Active Member
Aug 27, 2006
This is a really interesting and timely topic with the injury to Shayla Worley. How long had she been making herself "suck it up" before her leg finally broke?

Thanks for bringing it up, it is interesting to hear the different or similar situations
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Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
North America
My dd rarely complains

I just started gym and haven't been hurt yet (and hopefully won't ever be), but I'm wondering about the opposite problem of what CoachCatt posted. How many gymnasts don't complain or don't tell anyone when they are hurt, because they fear being told that they can't train or can't compete. I know my ex-gf did that once and her parents got mad at her when she finally told them about it and they found out she knew about the injury for a week and didn't tell them until it got much worse. She told them she didn't tell them because she thought the doctors would be overly cautious and pull her out and it was right before a big meet. She was a first year Level 8 at the time.

Just a few weeks ago at practice, I was noticing that my 9 yr old dd wasn't doing a particular drill as enthusiastically as she normally does--it was where they roll back on their backs and shoulders and then roll forward and stand up. She has done this hundreds of times so I just thought maybe she was tired or something. Well, after asking dd about it, she said that her back hurt really bad from sunburn and it hurt to roll back onto it because the carpet "rug-burned" her. I asked her why she didn't tell the coach and she said she didn't want to complain and appear to be a "baby". Poor thing! When I looked at her back and shoulders, it was beet red from sunburn! She's such a trooper and sucks it up a lot for being a little kid, but I often worry because I don't want her practicing and risking injury if she is really hurt. She is definitlely a "people-pleaser" so she rarely complains about anything. This is good in some ways but bad in others. I explained to her that if she is really hurting, then she has to tell the coach or me. This has to be hard cause she has to learn her pain threshold and know when she has hit her limit. She's not a cry baby (at least when it comes to work-outs in the gym) so I know that if she does start crying then she really is in pain or something is bothering her. I guess this knowing the pain threshold develops more with time and as they get older and have to deal with more training.
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Active Member
Jan 17, 2008
Good Question!

As an intermediate/Advanced coach, I ask my kids what hurts. Lets say they say an ankle.. ask them to do some Tuck jumps (does that hurt? ) Then I say how about running does it hurt to run? I am able to decipher if it is an injury or just someone not wanting to do the skill.. if It hurts and really is an injury - they are done for the night.. I dont want to risk injuring it more.

As for my daughter... she is a level 7/8 gymnast.. And lets be honest here. she is going to have pains.. and I just have to teach her to listen to her body. what is sore from conditioning, over stretching etc and what is injury. I think that is what you have to ask older/more advanced girls. Did you do anything different yesterday? Did you 'tweek'something? They will learn eventually..

Good luck!
Jul 12, 2008
Charleston, WV
Actually what I'll do is watch the gymnast to see what else they are doing so that I can tell whether they are faking or not. Like if they say their ankle hurts and they go jump on trampoline or something to that fact.

Also if one of the girls seems to be hurting for no reason when we go to an event or if they are working on a skill that they don't really like.

If I know they are faking or if its not serious, like if they are sore, I'll have them do it anyways and make sure they stretch and ice really well at the end of practice.


Feb 8, 2008
There was a girl who we think would fake injury when she didn't want to be there. She passed the habit onto her little sister too. It had more to do with the fact that she didn't want to be there. Her parents didn't push her into the sport but as she got older she lost motivation, and her excuse would be, well I can do it in the meet, which really really pissed coach off. I think that anyone who loves the sport won't waste the time on a faked injury.


My DD has never faked an injury. Even when she peeled off the high bar and fell on her back, she went back to practice (after a short break to come out and cry). She is, however, one of the "bathroom breaks" type if she's trying to avoid doing something. She usually goes for avoidance if she's tired or just off her game that night.


As many have stated--it really all depends on the gymnast. As a coach (Preschool, rec 1-5, team 4-6) i watch as see which child it is that's telling me something is hurting. If it is a child who is never in pain then i will take it into more consideration than a child who is constantly saying something is hurting. I find that a lot of rec kids tend to not know the difference between sore and pain, and that they tend to "hurt" a lot more than team kids.

As a gymnast I never ever faked an injury to get out of something, but I also have an extremely high tolerance for pain--I went 4 years with a fractured back (L5) before telling anyone that it hurt. I hated being out with an injury (which didn't happen until my sophmore year of highschool), so when i was injured I was in the gym doing anything and everything that I could do.

Long story short, I think it really all depends on the child and the situation.


At my dd's gym it really depends on the kid. Some always have some issue - especially on the events they don't want to do. My gymmie is usually pretty tough so if she says something hurts they take it seriously. They leave it up to the girls a lot though. If they want to try and work through something they can, if not they will find a way for them to modify. My dd's wrist was really bothering her the other day, so on vault she was just doing front layouts over the vault table - which killed her since they were doing fun vaults (fhs front tuck). She actually tried to do it once with one hand - but got yelled at by her coach (and me - I mean really - is she trying to hurt the other wrist too - darn kids!!). :rolleyes:

gym law mom

Active Member
Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
We've had some bad experiences with coaches not believing my gymmie and she's not the kind to whine or back off on practice. 2 summers ago she complained of left knee pain(the knee was swollen) and the coach said, "Well, growing hurts." That was that and he expected her to push through it. Finally, when she came out of practice crying that she couldn't vault(I thought she meant they didn't look good)-----it actually hurt too mch to run and hitting the springboard was agony, I said enough and sent a note in that she would not be doing any running, tumbling etc. She ended up with a pretty bad case of Jumper's knee and the real concern was her quads were "mushy." Not something you can just "push through." She had no gym except conditioning for 3 weeks then gradual increase in events and we ended up doing PT for 8 weeks. Happened again about 4 mos later(I know that knee had been hurting, but she didn't say anything). This time the coach didn't question her.

At our present gym, there is one coach who does not believe in letting girls sit out or they're afraid to ask because they'll get a lecture about not being "tough enough." Right now, gymmie has patellofemoral pain syndrome(different than Jumper's knee) and it probably got started last spring in PE when they were doing mile runs and she had crummy sneakers on. Well, this summer this coach has them running for 1 mile 2-3x/week on concrete. Gymmie was complaining if was really hurting her knees along with landing flyaways(one of her fav skills) and vaulting. Sent a note to the coach asking her not to have gymmie run----she disregarded it and had her run anyway. Then had to go to the doctor and he wrote a note with the diagnosis and no running for 1 month----she can run in the gym.

Most of these girls are very reluctant to say anything hurts and I am disappointed when a coach tries to play MD. If they feel there is a question about an injury, then talk with the parents.


Jul 13, 2008
rainy washington
I have never faked something hurting. But I do have Osgood Schlatters Disease, and sometimes it hurts but I can deal with it but I would just say it hurt to much to do something [running for example]. this wasn't to get out of the actual conditioning, but i was afraid that the fear would be to much for me to handle later in the practice and i would have to sit out for everything. yes many times has a coach not believed me. Its the most frustrating thing in the world. Almost as bad as mind blocks. As a gymnast you learn to deal with pain[when sectionals was coming up i didn't tell anyone i had probably sprained my ankle]. And at times, its just unbearable but you suck it up anyways. When finally you go to a coach and tell them, and i swear sometimes you can tell i'm hurt, they just tell me to suck it up and move on. I have been sucking it up for the last hour! and i can't deal with it anymore. Its horrible. Especially when you go home and complain to your parents, then my mom says, well maybe this sport is to much for you, which is a horrible thing to hear. We all know that at our gyms and gyms nearby, talking to coaches and owners never helps. It just makes the coach seem to hate us more, and makes us more whiney. So we suck it up. But there are some girls on my team who try to get out of everything. It's annoying. I seem to tell if the girl is complaining by doing this, if the girl complains more than once, we usually put her to conditioning that shouldn't hurt her injury. If the coach watches her and the gymnast knows that, then you can see how the gymnast reacts and from that you can tell if she is faking it or not.

oh and also this video describes perfectly sometimes of how i feel when im dealing with pain :


I am a gymnast answering this. I have NEVER faked an injury or anything to get out of connditioning or doing a certain skill. Yeah I'll complain a little but what gymnast hasn't? We all get lazy some days, it happens. But the only time I have opted out of a skill is because last summer I broke all 10 toes, left ankle, and right heel so when I tumble on floor my feet start hurting really bad quickly so I'll stop for a little and go on tumble trak or something like that or do a different exercise. Sometimes I would stop and watch if it were something that hurt too bad.

My coaches have always believed me as well as everyone else in my classes. My coaches that I had for the longest time were the sweetest and even though they were tough sometimes they still would believe someone.

There was this one girl who would fake stuff but we all knew she did that but my coaches still let her sit out or get ice because they didn't want to take the chance that she really was hurt. I really don't like it when gymnasts do that because it's like you signed up for the sport get over it it's tough. Don't fake something to not do work. It'll be hard but that's why they made stretching so it can help me be less sore. If it is a real then I understand that but if you are faking just get over it. haha
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