To Your Health
March, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 03)
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Dr. Goninan also said cheerleaders need to take occasional breaks of 3-4 days during the year when there are no games or practices. They should also do more weight training to strengthen their shoulders and upper body and implement nutritional supplements like all other athletes to boost performance. "This helps reduce the risk of injuries and helps manage the wear and tear that the never-ending season causes."

Dr. Enrico Esposito, a chiropractor who has treated various cheerleaders in Alabama, said it is the younger cheerleaders who tend to suffer from repetitive motion injuries like patellar tendonitis, ankle sprains, stress fractures, hip strains, and inflammation around the hips. There are also low-back injuries that can become chronic without proper care. But chiropractic care for younger cheerleaders can help reduce the risk of even more serious injuries in the future, he said.

"Any injury at a young age that is not rehabbed properly will undoubtedly result in residual problems later on," said Dr. Esposito. "A lot of injuries can prevent kids from excelling as good athletes down the line. Chiropractic care can decrease inflammation, re-strengthen and rehabilitate by balancing the body."

Dr. Gonina agrees, noting chiropractors are able to mitigate future injuries while healing prevent mishaps. "I have seen athletes fail to complete a rehabilitation regimen that led to reinjury down the road that was as bad, if not worse, than the original injury," he said. "I have learned how valuable chiropractic is for an athlete, both as a means of treating an injury and preventing future injuries."

Inside Cheerleading - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The Washington Redskins cheerleaders are supporting the nonprofit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, sharing their positive experiences with chiropractic care and how it helps keep them at the top of their game. Dr. Goninan recommends all cheerleaders have their spines checked and their muscle strength tested at least once a week during the season to detect and prevent all types of lingering injuries.

"To perform some of the athletic gymnastic moves required in cheerleading, it is absolutely essential that all muscles be firing on all cylinders," said Goninan.

Prevention Is Key

For many cheerleaders who go on to professional teams, chiropractic care becomes even more critical to maintain healthy joints and a spine, said Dr. Jay Greenstein, chiropractor for the Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

"What's interesting about cheerleaders is that they are true athletes; they endure a tremendous amount of physical stress," he said. "They practice hard, there is a lot of demands on them when it comes to performance and they are doing chronic repetitive motions that put significant strain on their bodies, so they are perfect candidates for chiropractic care."