For most, cheerleading seems like the type of activity that is safe and would cause few, if any injuries. You may not even think of it as a sport. But it is a sport, and one that tops the list for the injuries, minor to severe.
Cheerleading injuries have been on the rise for quite some time now. The injuries are mostly from the legs, ankles and feet, with a small percentage from the arms and shoulders. Some injuries are even more serious, such as broken bones and critical injuries to the head. Injuries are so prevalent that, over the course of a thirteen year study, researchers found evidence of at least 200,000 injuries.
Competitive Cheerleading Increases Injury Risk
As cheerleading becomes more competitive, the injuries become more serious. This can be from the parents or peers pushing them too hard. But usually it is the result of uneducated coaches. Some coaches do not concern themselves with safety so much as with the aesthetic result of their athletes' performances. These coaches can, and do, work the cheerleaders relentlessly. With cheerleading camps and competitions nearly every weekend during the season, cheerleaders are constantly working out. Some high schools can average more than 15 hours a week of practice for cheerleading alone, not including work outs. Competition teams can practice twice that much, and let's not get started on college cheerleading.
With such a heavy work load, fatigue becomes an obvious factor. However, safety must always come first. Is it safe to throw a girl in the air and then have a few others catch her? Clearly, if done correctly, the answer is yes. But there are coaches with too few girls to catch a cheerleader, and that can result in very serious injuries.