Warning: cheerleading may damage your health

Among girls in the US, severe sporting injuries have been on the rise for a number years and it is not all down to rougher games of hockey and lacrosse. A report from the National Centre for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research shows cheerleading accounted for 65.1 per cent of all such injuries among high school females over the past 25 years. At college level the figure is 66.7 per cent.

The figures are higher than previously thought, thanks to new data from the National Cheer Safety Foundation, whose director says cheerleading now involves gymnastic-type stunts. “If these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading,” said the foundation’s Professor Frederick O Meuller.

Between 1982 and 2007 there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, 67 of them occurring in cheerleading. No other sports registered double-figure tallies; gymnastics (9) and track (7) had the second and third highest totals. Among college students there have been 39 such injuries: 26 in cheerleading, followed by three in field hockey and two each in gymnastics and lacrosse. Almost 95,000 female students take part on high school cheerleading annually, along with about 2,150 males. In 2005, 25 per cent of money spent on student athlete injuries by the NCAA insurance programme resulted from cheerleading. ~ Newswise, August 11



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