On the surface it seems obvious: Your child gymnast should use wrist supports no matter how old they are or what level they’re competing in. Most young gymnasts, cheerleaders, and backyard tumblers experience wrist pain and injuries no matter what they do.
But there are many debates from gymnasts, cheerleaders, and backyard tumblers alike wondering if using wrist supports is a mistake. A plethora of questions pop up, such as:
- Are wrist supports comfortable?
- Do wrist supports affect tumbling?
- When is too early to use wrist supports?
In this article, we’ll answer those questions and more, and we’ll also take a look at the common myths surrounding wrist supports.
Do Wrist Supports Prevent Injuries?
It’s no secret that wrist injuries are incredibly common for gymnasts, cheerleaders, and backyard tumblers. The constant weight bearing on their hands and wrists lead to tiny tears in the skin of their palms. Normal gymnastics and cheerleading training can even lead to hairline bone fractures that are so minute that the gymnast doesn’t even realize they’re there––until it’s too late.
Moreover, many backyard tumblers––which includes children who are not in competitive gymnastics––are often tumbling on soft grass without the supervision of a skilled coach, or the benefit of a gym’s safety equipment.
Wrist injuries are so common that many tumblers think they’re normal.
Wrist pain is not normal. Your gymnast deserves to tumble and vault to their heart’s desire without the pain of wrist injuries.
Some of the most common wrist injuries are:
- Swelling and bruising
- Gymnasts wrist
Take note of that last item. Gymnast wrist is the most common type of overuse injury that wrist supports can prevent.
In layman’s terms, gymnast wrist is an irritation and inflammation of the growth plates at the end of the gymnast’s forearm. The growth plates at the connection between the hand and forearm are made up of cartilage, which is more susceptible to injury than mature bone.
Gymnast wrist affects nearly 40% of young gymnasts, and a whopping 80% of child gymnasts experience chronic wrist pain at some point. Moreover, cheerleaders tend to work on harder surfaces, such as basketball floors. That’s a ton of wrist pain gymnasts and cheerleaders deal with.
And it’s no wonder. Young gymnasts are known for their tenacity, the frequency of their workouts, and their love of the sport. Many young gymnasts, cheerleaders, and backyard tumblers spend 20 or more hours a week in the gym. They don’t like resting, even after an injury, and they don't like using any equipment that might hinder their performance.
But wrist injuries should not be blindly accepted as part of the process. They can be prevented, and wrist supports are the best way to prevent wrist injuries...as long as you don’t fall victim to the most common myths surrounding wrist supports.
Common Wrist Support Myths
Myth #1: Wrist Supports Weaken Wrists
This is the most harmful myth surrounding wrist supports, mostly because so many people believe it. There is no evidence that suggests wrist supports make wrists weak. In fact, the evidence is quite the contrary.
Wrist supports, such as Tiger Paws, actually help young gymnasts focus on the correct technique without worrying about injury. That creates a virtuous cycle: wrist supports strengthen young gymnasts’, cheerleaders’, and even backyard tumblers’ technique, which therefore strengthens their wrists, which leads to strengthened performance.
Myth #2: Wrist Supports Impair Performance
Many cheerleaders and gymnasts believe that wrist supports impair performance. They think it weakens the gymnasts’ grip and removes their touch. Backyard tumblers may not know enough about them to consider them an option.
The truth is quite the contrary. Wrist supports actually improve vault, bar, and floor grip. Moreover, gymnasts and cheerleaders can train for longer periods and more train more safely with wrist supports, which will improve their performance in the long term.
Even for backyard tumblers, the wrist supports take away the anxiety of injury, which helps them focus on the joy of their activity.
Myth #3: Wrist Supports Make Gymnasts, Cheerleaders, and Backyard Tumblers Injury-Prone
Yes, there are some people who believe wrist supports lead to injury. They believe that their child gymnast will become dependent on wrist supports (like a crutch), then when they stop using them the gymnast will get injured.
You don’t become dependent on wrist supports any more than you become “dependent” on good technique. It’s all part of being a good gymnast.
Wrist supports reduce stress on wrists and allow for safer and longer training sessions without as much risk of injuries (such as gymnast wrist). They also significantly reduce wrist pain. One study found that gymnasts using wrist supports while training on the pommel, floor, and parallel bars, experienced 53.5% less pain than without wrist supports.
We all know how tenacious young gymnasts and cheerleaders are, even after injuries. If your gymnast, cheerleader, or backyard tumbler experiences a wrist injury, wrist supports also help them return to the gym after an injury faster than without them.
Myth #4: My Child Gymnast, Cheerleader, or Backyard Tumbler Is too Young for Wrist Supports
No age is too young to prevent injury. Similarly, it’s never too late for your gymnast to take care of their wrists.
No matter what level your gymnast is in, injuries are most likely to happen when they move up to a new competitive level. Injuries are also common when they’re trying to master a new skill. Those times can be perfect opportunities to start using wrist supports.
Keep Your Child Gymnast, Cheerleader, or Backyard Tumbler Happy and Healthy
Don’t let the myths surrounding wrist supports cloud your judgment: child gymnasts, backyard tumblers, and cheerleaders benefit from using wrist supports to maintain a happy and healthy career.
At US Glove, we know how challenging it is to take care of a young gymnast while still helping them achieve success. That’s why we offer a full menu of gymnastics gear, including our popular Tiger Paw wrist supports, to protect your child gymnast and improve their performance.
To learn more about Tiger Paws, check out our online store.