How safe is cheerleading compared to other sports?

How safe is cheerleading compared  to other sports?

While the high flying acrobatics of cheerleading may have people wondering about safety, a new study by the Colorado School of Public Health found it to be one of the safest high school sports.

A recent data analysis of the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study showed the injury rates in cheerleading ranked 18th out of 22 sports. The injury rate per 1,000 came in at 0.71, far below the 4.01 rate of football, one of the leaders in injuries. Boys track and field, cross country, swimming and diving for both genders were the only sports ranked lower than cheerleading.

“Cheerleading is a safe sport/activity to participate in as long as precautions are being made by the coaching staff and teammates,” says Dr. Andrea Kane, an Advocate Medical Group pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.

The study also found that when cheerleading injuries occur, they are often very serious. The most common cheerleading injuries are concussions, ligament sprains, muscle strains and fractures, and the amount of lost time in the sport due to recovery from these injuries was relatively high.

“If injury does occur, one should seek medical help if there are severe or prolonged symptoms,” says Dr. Kane. “Annual wellness check-ups can help prevent injuries and ensure our child athletes are safe and healthy.”

Another way to combat these injuries, said Dawn Comstock, PhD, senior author of the study, is to stop marginalizing the activity.

“It is time that every state high school athletic association recognizes the vast majority of today’s high school cheerleaders are athletes,” Comstock said in a news release. “At a minimum, they should ensure cheerleaders benefit from the same safety measures and risk minimization efforts afforded to all other high school athletes.”

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About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.