Being a flyer is one of the toughest positions on the cheer team and often one of the most underserved. They are often thrown into this position, at a young age, because of their size with little regard to their bodies. It’s common for flyers to struggle with low back, knee, ankle and shoulder injuries throughout their cheerleading career. The demands of being a flyer are incredibly high with little to no specific conditioning. Having been a Cheerleader, Coach, and now a Sports Doctor, I’ve seen it through all three lenses. A foundational training regimen is a great start to improving their overall performance while keeping injury rates minimal.
Here are my top three injuries that flyers face and why.
Low Back Pain: The most common culprit is poor hip health and an unstable torso. The human body is an incredible organism and it will adapt to anything you throw at it. More often than not, Flyers are put into this position because they are “naturally flexible.” Flexibility does not equal mobility.
Ankle Sprains: For whatever reason, we treat ankle sprains like a scrape on the pavement. Flyers roll their ankles and are often told to “walk it off” and then brace it. There is usually tissue damage in that area, and often times these issues go unaddressed. Of course there are accidents that happen in any sport, but if they are chronically having ankle sprains there is a major root problem that has not been recognized. When these problems persist, they often lead to other issues up the kinetic chain.
Rotator Cuff Strains/Sprains: The sport is so lower limb dominant that we often neglect the upper body, especially for our flyers. These shoulder conditions often arise from having poor mobility and sweeping the problem under the rug. The culture that is created when athletes feel that they are easily replaced forces them to push through injuries which can lead to chronic issues as they mature.