For Parents Gymnastics After Injury

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Kristie

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Hi!
A little background.
My dd is 9 and is level 4 recreation. She's loved gymnastics since she started and has wanted to be on team pretty much from day one. She's currently 2 skills from level 5. Level 6 is the last recreational level before team. Her coach along with several others have commented to me more than once that she is an extremely hard worker. She really wants to progress.

Rewind 4 weeks ago....she had a make up class on Tuesday and her regular class on Thursday. Both days she worked on her backhand spring and had just learned to do it alone on the wedge. She did it multiple times both days without any issues. Friday night she went to open gym, did a simple cartwheel and snapped her radius in half. :( She didn't do anything crazy, wasn't a round off, didn't cartwheel down and barely ran into it. It was just an unfortunate positioning of her wrist.

She ended up needing surgery to have a nail inserted and to set the bone straight. She was devastated. Her surgeon said she was at least 6 weeks out from ANY gymnastics, maybe more so naturally everyone starts telling her that she needs to expect to lose skills and strength and all that. Her coach welcomed her back to class just to see everyone and stay connected. She was bored and only stayed a half hour. I think it made her sad to not be able to do anything while her friends were moving forward.

Anyway, a few days ago, she told me she isn't sure she wants to go back and is scared she will break something again. I am a little upset with this, not because I want her to do gymnastics but because I know SHE wants to do gymnastics. Had she done it on a higher level skill, I wonder if it would be better because now she's afraid to do a cartwheel, one of the basics.

I don't know how to help her, if I should even try or if I should just let her quit. Her little sister (4) is on level 2 right now and looks up to her older sister for everything, including gymnastics. She was upset to learn that her big sissy might not be doing gymnastics anymore too. Her dad is indifferent to her decision and says whatever she wants.

How do you help a gymnast overcome the fear of hurting themselves again? Do you make them go back to the gym and "test the water" and hope they aren't really as afraid as they thought? Let them quit and see if they ever go back?

I don't want her to quit because I know how much she loves it and she worked so hard to get where she is now. I also don't want to force her into this when it could take something she loved and make it something she loathes.

Any advice?? She's got 2 more weeks of her cast before she is re-evaluated to determine level of healing so we have some time to talk and work some things out. Help!!
 

CLgym

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Slightly different situation, but my DD broke both her radius and ulna on the school playground when she was age 6 and a pre-team gymnast. One thing that helped keep her motivated was allowing her to continue attending gym practice throughout the healing process, with doctor permission of course. She couldn't do a lot with a big cast on her arm, but was able to work on conditioning, flexibility, and low beam. She got her "bad leg" split during this time period. And once the cast/splint came off and the arm was cleared for use, we did a couple of private lessons with her coach so the she could gain confidence and get comfortable using the arm again in a 1-on-1 setting (less pressure). Of course, in our case, DD did not break the arm actually doing gymnastics, so she did not directly associated gymnastics with the injury.

If it was my DD, I would encourage but not force her to try gymnastics again -- starting only with skills she felt comfortable trying. Talk to her coach in advance. See how it goes. Truth is, gymnasts fall and get hurt a lot (although thankfully not too many broken bones!!) and part of the sport requires getting back up, overcoming fear, and trying again. This aspect of the sport does not appeal to every kid... and that's OK. I mean, self-preservation is a good thing, right??
 

GymRays

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I'm going through getting my DD back into everything now. She fractured her humerus, surgery, pins. Continued to go to the gym for practice and did conditioning or played assistant coach. She got her cast off, did PT and fully healed and cleared for full activity. All during recovery I didn't talk about gym unless she brought it up. I didn't ask how practice (conditioning) was unless she wanted to tell me about it. A couple nights she did breakdown emotionally and said she was scared to do beam again (event where injury happen). I told her we don't need to figure that out till you are healed. She never said she wanted to quit but did ask many times if you can do gymnastics and not do all four events. Clearly she was really just talking about beam. She handled coming back well. She is calling the shots on beam. After some time with simple drills and floor beam with panel mats on the sides, She did get back to doing her whole beam routine on floor beam. She has also started being ok with some choreography on the lower high beam. She did actually do a meet 2 weeks after being cleared and she just competed floor and vault and had a blast.

Take as much pressure off as possible. Encourage her to go to practice, have fun, do what she can and maybe see if the coaches will let her help them out. Don't talk about what happens after she is fully recovered until that time comes, then let her lead the way. Hopefully the coaches will help by breaking skills back down to drills and have her do as much as she is comfortable with to build her confidence.
 
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Kristie

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Thank you!

She went to practice once, like I said above, but missed it this week because she said she just didn't want to be there. I don't know if it's because she feels upset she can't do it or because her coach is asking her to do some conditioning and she is afraid to hurt her arm while it's still healing.

Her coach was a little pushy the last time and wanted her to do v-ups. Since I was there watching, I waved my arms wildly at her motioning to her to stop that immediately because whipping your arm around one week post surgery is not smart IMO. I might have been over reacting. When her coach said something to me about her not doing them, I was pretty clear that I didn't want her doing anything that moved her arm around. Her coach is young but was a gymnast so I assumed she would understand what was ok and what wasn't.

Perhaps that is why she doesn't want to go back? Great. Mom embarrassment strikes again. LOL
 
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Kristie

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Thank you also WSCoachly!

I guess maybe I've been talking about her going back a lot. I have this way of getting a little too excited about things. lol

I'll try and back off and see what happens and also encourage her to go back next week to just spend time there.

Thank you both again!!
 
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GymRays

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My DD kept her cast in a sling and did any conditioning with the sling on. It helped remind her not to move it too crazy. She did lower body strength a lot. Squats, calf raises, ankle strength etc. She actually had a tougher time after the cast. She wanted to do things she couldn't due to the lose of strength. She had a very stiff elbow and weak muscles. PT and massage helped tremendously to get her back to where she is now. Bars is still a challenge but is doing good every class.

I wish her the best with recovery.
 

Kristie

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i didn't even think of the sling! Maybe she's willing to try it next week with the sling. Thanks again!
 

CLgym

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And don't hesitate to call up your doc (or more likely his/her nurse) and ask questions about permissible activities.... I literally had a list of activities that I asked about. In our case, given the specific injury, the doc was pretty lenient with activities while the hard casts were on (DD was even allowed to ice skate!). However, risk of re-injury was more of an issue when the hard cast was removed and a soft splint was used. Possibly your DD will feel more comfortable if she has a better sense of what activities are doctor approved?
 

tpMom

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I think that maybe the most important thing to remember here is that gymnastics is your daughter’s sport, so the decision to continue or to quit really needs to ultimately be up to her. I totally understand how you feel, I would be extremely upset if my DD got hurt and wanted to quit gymnastics, but you can’t want it for her more than she wants it for herself. I would back WAY off for now, at least until she sees the doctor again. It’s probably stressful for her to be hurting, afraid of getting hurt again, and at the same time knowing that her family wants her to go back to the gym. I can totally see how it would be upsetting to her sister if she decided not to continue with gymnastics, but it’s also not fair to put that kind of pressure on her. Your youngest daughter will continue with gymnastics if it’s something she really wants to do, and so will your older daughter. I’m so sorry that you all have to go through this. I hope that your daughter heals quickly and well and you find some resolution soon!
 
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NY Dad

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Oh No! So sorry that happened. :(

My dd7 broke her humerus doing a cartwheel on beam (technically she broke it falling :oops:). She went to every practice other than the first week after the injury. At first she could only watch (Ortho was worried that her bone would slip). Every few weeks she was able to do more. I was very clear with the coach (at least I think I was) about what she was permitted and not permitted to do any why. Incidentally her school required a doctor's note to return to gym but in gymnastics they didn't seem as concerned.

I waved my arms wildly at her motioning to her to stop that immediately because whipping your arm around one week post surgery is not smart IMO. I might have been over reacting.
Our kids feed on our anxiety.
You/ the coach shouldn't be making decisions about what she can/can't do. I literally brought pictures/explanations of all the types of conditioning to her orthopedist so I could understand what my dd was and wasn't permitted to do. I wrote a note (and spoke to the coach) to make sure my message got through each time there was a change.



My dd has had the cast off for about a month and was cleared for actual gymnastics 2 weeks ago.

I think having her go to the gym, stay connected with the team/coach was really helpful. At the time she would occasionally say that she didn't want to go but I told her she's part of a team and she's committed for the season. (I'm sure it was a drag to watch her friends get new skills while she had to do conditioning but I stick with my decision to make her go). She did periodically talk about feeling bad for herself but never said anything about not wanting to return to gymnastics. Also, this may not be as much of an issue for your dd since she's older but a month could feel like eternity to a kid. I worked hard to continue to help my dd understand the timeline and that the light at the end of the tunnel.

One thing that I think has helped (but I'm not sure if it's a long term solution) is that her coach doesn't push kids to do anything if they have a fear. While I'm happy she's still loves gymnastics, in my opinion it's a relatively short term solution since at JO2 there aren't many skills to begin with ;). And sooner or later she's going to have to face her fear.

In the ER she said that she's never going go on a beam again. She does have a generalized fear about getting injured again (incidentally, not on beam). I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure my dd can totally avoid cartwheel on high beam (at least until level 3) so that hasn't been an issue.

I think you're jumping the gun a little about your longer term concerns but if after she's returned for a while and she's still unhappy maybe they would will let her drop back a level until she's more comfortable again. This way there's less pressure. For now I would hold off having a talk with her about it but I would make her go. (She's not going to break anything watching or doing light conditioning).
 
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amiandjim

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Good answer NY Dad. FYI, cartwheel on beam is a level 4 skill.
 
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Kristie

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Thank you all so much. It's helpful to hear opinions of parents who've been there, done that!

Tonight at my youngest gymnastics class, my dd saw her coach and they talked for a few. Apparently, she talked to her about understanding her fears and it made my dd feel much better about everything. So good, in fact, that now she's anticipating going to practice next week, where as this morning she was adamant about not. It reminded me that I am not a gymnast. And there are just things I will never understand about it. I'm glad her coach is such an understanding person. I will be calling the doctor this week to clarify activities and see if any conditioning is ok.

I'm taking your advice though and backing off. It's hard but I know it's the right thing.

Thanks again!
 
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