The Dangers Of Cheerleading

By Anna Yee

March 10, 2011 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 4:00 AM CDT

As basketball teams gear up to play in the State tournament, they're probably keeping on a close watch on their health and safety.

But they aren't the only ones risking it all on the court.

If there's one sport you can really get hurt from, it's cheerleading.

According to Dr. Jill Wirth with Methodist Medical Group, "Cheerleading actually has one of the highest rates of injury."*

That's because they're doing more than, well, cheering.

Take Peoria Notre Dame High School's squad--they cheer, dance, tumble, and stunt, or lift each other in the air.

"I mean you can't wake up and say, 'I'm going to put a person in the air.' You have to train, and you have to work out. You have to be strong, and whatever position you're at, you have to know what you're doing,' says Peoria Notre Dame Senior Falynn Lannert.

But accidents do happen.

Dr. Wirth says common cheer injuries range from sprained ankles to skull fractures and it all falls back on how you train and who trains you.

Peoria Notre Dame's coach, a former high school and college cheerleader, says her team conditions and practices every week.

"It takes countless hours for them to look professional and look presentable," says Coach Jessica Moroz.

Presentable, until a certain level.

"Body image can play a role in developing certain injuries. If a cheerleader is pressured to have a certain look, not getting the proper nutrition can lead to more fractures or overuse type of injuries" says Dr. Wirth.

There are risks to every sport and yes, cheerleading is a sport, according to the IHSA.

"Every year people are trying newer and harder things that are riskier, so I think people are starting to see that it takes real true athletic ability to do what they do," says Coach Moroz.

Doing what they do, despite the danger of injury.

"You get right back to it if you love it. I mean, it's a lifestyle," says Lannert.

*According to a more updated study, cheerleading injury rates compare more closely to women's soccer injury rates, taking into consideration length of in-season play and number of participants, among other factors.

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