Gymnastics is a rigorous sport. Every skill required of these athletes puts significant stress on their bodies, increasing the gymnast’s risk of injury. So what happens when a gymnast’s body cannot perform? How can they continue to improve while not overtraining?
Unfortunately, injuries are common and can lead to increased time away from practice and competition. To decrease this risk, it is imperative to not only work with your coach but a movement specialist who understands the physical and mental demands of your sport. Our gymnastics team of physical therapists at EW Motion Therapy has worked with many motivated athletes like you and wants to help train your body to continue performing as you advance. Even if you pursue physical therapy elsewhere, we still want to present the movement specialist as an essential part of a gymnast’s coaching team.
This article discusses what gymnastics movement specialists do, how they differ from your coach, and why every gymnast should work with one. With this information, you can search for a trusted professional in your area.
What does a gymnastics movement specialist do?
Many gymnastics movement specialists are doctors of physical therapy who have extensive knowledge of and a passion for gymnastics, either from participating in the sport or working with various athletes. These professionals can combine their knowledge of gymnastics’ demands with the human anatomy and physiology they learned in PT school to help your body meet the needs of your sport.
Your movement specialist will help you create a custom program to increase stability, strength, and flexibility so you can complete the skills required for your current level and lay the foundation to advance. They will focus on body positioning required for all current skills to decrease your risk of injury overall.
How are they different from a gymnastics coach?
Your coach knows firsthand what your sport requires, and they will be your primary source of knowledge for competitions and progression. They are the one that ensures you are performing at the level required. They develop routines, emphasize specific skills, and assess your technique to advance your current skill level. A movement specialist will focus on equipping your body to perform each of those skills and ensure that your body can withstand the demands of the sport. Ideally, your movement specialist will work alongside your coach and be a vital addition to your team.
Why should every gymnast meet with a movement specialist?
In gymnastics, injury is common, and one wrong landing could end your career. With so much at stake, keeping your body in working order as you progress is vital, as is understanding your limitations. A movement specialist can help you both return to your sport safely and quickly after an injury and also educate you on what your own body can handle so you can decrease your risk of injury in the first place. Part of being a gymnast is full-body awareness, specifically while performing skills required for each event - it only makes sense to have the same understanding of your body before you even begin to perform the movements.
Most gymnasts work with their coach and typically only go to a doctor after an injury. But a multi-person team who can help you progress while keeping you healthy and conditioned simultaneously can help you stop injuries before they start and become a better gymnast.
How else can I move better?
Now you know more about gymnastics movement specialists and how they can help you decrease your injury risk. A physical therapist is an expert in the science of movement. When you have a trusted professional in your corner, you can continue to advance and work toward accomplishing any of your goals.
While gymnastics injuries are commonplace and can be detrimental, that does not have to be your story. Working with your coach and a movement specialist can help you prepare your body for the demands of your sport so you can return more quickly after injuries and have full-body awareness to prevent more injuries before they happen. If you are interested in working with us, answer the questions in our Program Match Tool to determine which of our programs best fits your needs.