For Parents Is this too many injuries- or normal for some?

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ElizaBrooke

Proud Parent
Jan 29, 2014
16
Texas
Can you give some advice on whether or not my daughter is getting injured too often? I am clueless on these things, but I'd like to understand more of what may be going on for my daughter.

My daughter just turned 13 and she's level 5, training level 6/7. During the year, she trained 16 hours a week, and in the summer they increased the number up to 26 hours per week.

In late April, my daughter rolled her ankle and got a small sprain while doing some skill on the tumble track, used crutches a few days and returned to the gym with no pain a week later.

Then, in early June (6 weeks later), she started training 26 hours a week (10 more per week than she trains during the year) and she had pain in her lower back and ankle and needed to miss practice for a week.

5 weeks later in July she did something that hurt her hip and then she stayed home for a week to recover from that pain.

3 weeks later (in August) she hyperextended her knee when landing on something and her knee hurt intensely for a few days so we eventually brought her to a sports ortho doctor to have it checked. X-rays showed nothing but an MRI showed a small stress fracture in her knee with bruising on the bone. Also, we learned through an x-ray they did on her lower back (since she told them her lower back has been hurting for "years" since she started gym) that the ring around her spine is not completely fused and she may have spondylolysis. The doctor said he had the same problem in high school with football and that she needs twice a week physical therapy to strengthen the spine to help her back hurt "less." We've been taking her to the physical therapy, and she's practicing the exercises at home twice a day with icing.

So, now she's out of the gym for an additional 3 weeks (6 weeks all together out of the gym), and missing the first meet of the season. The doctor says no conditioning because it will irritate her spine before she's had enough physical therapy to strengthen it. So, she's home everyday.

Her coach is so kind, but she did say to me, "this is a lot of injuries for your daughter. We'll see how she does when she gets back in a few weeks, but if she keeps getting injured she may need to reduce her hours and switch over to the xcel team if it's too hard on her body to continue with the JO team. Some girls get more injuries as their bodies are growing because they get weaker as they're trying to do higher level skills like your daughter is doing now. We'll have to see if she can keep up or if it's just getting to be too much for her body."

I didn't tell my daughter what her coach said because I knew she'd be devastated to hear the possibility of not staying with her JO team (which she adores!) if she keeps getting injured.

Is it possible that she just had this spine condition for a while and we didn't know, but now we do and are getting physical therapy and she could be better in the future? Also, is it a big deal to have this stress fracture on her knee and be out for 6 weeks while it heals? Does this sound like "too many injuries"? Is there anything that can be done to prevent these injuries or pain, I wonder?

Thanks!!
 

raenndrops

Coach
Oct 24, 2009
6,804
The 'Wood, Ohio
I'm not sure what constitutes "too many" but any injury that didn't require a doctor or PT and / or resolved itself in a week or less doesn't really count for me. OF course, I have had a ton of injuries over the years, lol.
You said she rolled her ankle and had a sprain that resolved in a week - that wouldn't count for us as lots of people roll their ankles just walking.
She was close to doubling her hours when you saw the first signs of a back problem. The additional pounding would explain that. 26 hours seems like a LOT to me especially for a L5 training L6/7. The ankle (if it was the same ankle), may not have been 100% even if she was pain-free... but my doctor also said that I have "a history of sprains" after I had 3 left ankle sprains over the course of 25 years (one from jumping out of a tree from about 10-12 feet above the ground in 5th grade, one doing a straight jump in 7th grade cheer tryouts, and one standing in my kitchen at the counter 23 years later). The last one took about 4 months to heal. Since then, I have re-sprained it several times. I am supposed to wear an ankle brace at all times - I'm not a good patient though.
The knee ... stress fractures are often caused by repeated poundings (the extra hours play a part in this, I am 99.9% sure).
The only concerning one to me is the back. The spine is important. Follow doctor's advice. Let it get stronger with PT and give her body a chance to heal / fuse. When she goes back, ease her back into it. Don't go from 0 to 16 in one week. She will need to work up to that.
If she continues to get niggling little injuries, she may need to limit hard landings or a modified gym schedule ... which may mean a lateral move to Xcel or a move to another gym that goes fewer hours.
Good luck to your DD.
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,688
Did she stay out of the gym each time she is hurt? It's hard to tell from how you worded your post. Certainly with the spine and doctor's orders, but for those other injuries, she should be in the gym conditioning and working on whatever she can that doesn't involve the injury. Not only does it help with her psyche (being there daily for practice) but it helps maintain strength which will help reduce further injury.

I personally would not be worried at this point about too many injuries. It sounds like the coach is just tying to prepare you if it continues. Gymnast injuries seem to run in succession - likely due to over compensation with other body parts, not strengthening the weakened area enough, etc - and tend to happen more often when the body is growing rapidly. The huge increase in hours likely stressed her body more. Both in physical and mental fatigue. Is she going back down to more reasonable hours for the school year? That's really high for 6/7.
 

Aussie_coach

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
4,022
I find 13 to be the absolute worst age for injuries with girls. Many will never get a single injury, then reach 13 and they will have a spate of them. The good news is they tend to grow out of it too.

The body changes quite dramatically at that age, many kids have a huge growth spurt. If you look at a group of 11-12 year old girls, most of them still look like kids with a few maturing early. If you look at a group of 14-15 year old girls, most look more mature, with a few late maturers. It is very common to make this dramatic shift at 13.

As they are growing, they can also some across as loose, sloppy etc because their muscles and bones are not growing at the same rate.

It is not just changes in growth and body that affect them, it is mental changes as well. Their raging hormones often lead to them being more easily distracted, which increases injury risk. The changes in the maturity of their thinking can to more fear, which can also result in injury from things like pulling out of skills, or not going for skills with full intention.

The hours would also be an issue. Jumping straight from 16 to 26 hours a week, without building it up over time and then dropping back to 16 is a recipe for injuries. Especially for vulnerable young teens, hours should be increased gradually.
 

josie55

Proud Parent
Jul 19, 2015
354
Similar to what @gymgal said, the back issue aside, it sounds from the post like a series of small “injuries” that at my kid’s gym, would not result in taking time off and staying home. Injured kids go in, condition, and do whatever skills/events they can do safely. If she really was in and out of the gym like that, resting at home for a week every couple of months, then it seems to my untrained eye to be a recipe for injuries. Yes their bodies need rest sometimes, but they also need strength and consistency.

Good luck!!
 

NutterButter

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Jan 24, 2013
900
I agree with the others...many girls have lots of issues with sprains during puberty this doesn’t mean that she has had too many injuries. Your DDs back however does concern me. I’m glad that she’s in PT and is out of the gym. My DD had stress fractures/spondy. She’s 6.5 months post-diagnosis and still has a ways to go. She mostly has her skills back but isn’t able to go 100% every practice. She kinda has to pick and choose what she does each practice based on how she’s feeling. Going hard in vault might mean no tumbling that day. And if she’s just doing too much in general, her back lets her know and she then needs to go easy for a day or more. In PT she has worked to strengthen her core and other areas to take stress off the spine. She has also relearned how to land to minimize the force on her spine. Her progression has slowed because of her injury.

This could be why your DDs coach commented that she may have to change to Xcel. I think your gyms summer hours are high for L6/7. Your DD trains more than than the L9/10s at our gym! If your DDs coaches aren’t able to change expectations to accommodate her injury then you may want to consider another gym.
 
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stillhoping

Proud Parent
Nov 18, 2016
124
Is she the only one injured, or are several on the team getting injuries? If several are injured, are all of the injuries different or are there several of the same injuries? If there’s a lot if the same injury in a workout group, it could be caused by a lack of conditioning or stretching.

We had this happen at our old gym with a large group of teammates. We all ended up at different PTs. All PTs identified the same specific weakness. Is it possible to get your dd evaluated by a PT to see what she needs?
 

CuriousCate

Proud Parent
Jul 12, 2016
694
The back injury aside, personally I think that when kids are getting one injury after another it is usually because the very first one never truly healed. It felt good enough to practice but required subtle methods of compensation which then led to other injuries. But really, a jump in hours by TEN is too much and probably was too hard for her body to handle so quickly.

Also 26 hours a week for level 6/7 seem nuts. My kid is also L5 now and training L6/7 and trains 20 hours. Even that is too much IMO. Our gym gets great results but the gym in the next town over comes pretty close and they train L5 at 14 hours and L6/7 at 18.
 

gasrgoose

Proud Parent
Dec 15, 2010
518
The back injury aside, personally I think that when kids are getting one injury after another it is usually because the very first one never truly healed. It felt good enough to practice but required subtle methods of compensation which then led to other injuries. But really, a jump in hours by TEN is too much and probably was too hard for her body to handle so quickly.

Also 26 hours a week for level 6/7 seem nuts. My kid is also L5 now and training L6/7 and trains 20 hours. Even that is too much IMO. Our gym gets great results but the gym in the next town over comes pretty close and they train L5 at 14 hours and L6/7 at 18.

^^^^^^^^^ I agree 100% with both of these statements!
 

Taxidriver

Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2016
217
Injuries can travel through the body, by that I mean one injury not treated properly can cause you to compensate with other parts and can lead to other injuries. I speak from experience on that, teenage bodies are very vulnerable, I would make sure all injuries are checked out and doctors advice followed remember you need your body after gymnastics, not from gymnastics but a different sport I still suffer from an injury that was never checked out by a doctor until it was too late (years later)
 
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