Out of the Gym: Safe Gymnastics Training and Conditioning at Home

Kids love gymnastics.

That seems like a simple, obvious statement, and it’s certainly true. We’ve never met a kid who didn’t like to tumble. But it also comes with a rider and a caveat.

Rider: Kids love to show off. Any time they learn something new, they can’t wait to demonstrate it to anyone who holds still long enough.

Caveat: Gymnastics can be dangerous if not done properly. Some of the techniques that kids learn (or try to imitate) can result in serious injury without the proper equipment and supervision. Little Suzie’s urge to show grandma the back tuck she just learned could get her hurt.

Looking for classes in Nixa? Gymnastics and cheer classes are going on all the time! No need to wait until the next session starts! Call today: (417)725-1304

Since we want all of our students to come back safe and healthy to every class, we’ve compiled a list of training tips for the at-home gymnast.

  1. Safety! This entire article is focused on safety, but we really can’t stress it enough. All of the safety rules in effect at the gym apply doubly at home.
  2. Never practice alone! Because of the nature of the sport, even the safest, most responsible gymnasts get hurt sometimes. There should always be someone there to help should something go wrong.
  3. Kids don’t spot kids. Spotting is difficult, and it should only be done by qualified coaches. A spotter who’s the same size and skill level of the gymnast stands a good chance of getting both parties hurt.
  4. Never practice a technique you haven’t mastered. Remember Suzie’s back tuck? She may have done it just fine with her coach as a spotter, but there’s a huge gap between learning something and mastering it. Mastering means doing it right every time, without a spotter. New skills should never be attempted at home.
  5. Practice on soft surfaces. Even when she’s mastered the tuck, Suzie should stick to soft surfaces when she practices. Even Olympic gymnasts stumble occasionally. The floor at the gym is padded for exactly that reason. Your driveway is not.
  6. Only use approved gymnastic equipment. Improper equipment is dangerous. A fence rail is NOT the same as a balance beam. The bars on the playground may be parallel, but they’re probably neither the same distance, nor the same height as the ones at the gym. And the rings tend to hang above gravel, which is never fun to fall on.
  7. Dress the part. Unrestrictive clothing is very important in gymnastics. A gymnast’s body moves in ways that jeans just weren’t made for. If you’re practicing at home, we recommend you wear a leotard, or at least gym shorts and a tank top. And no dangly jewellery! You don’t want to get your hand stuck through your necklace or earring.
  8. Don’t forget to stretch. We stretch before and after our workouts at the gym, and home should be no different. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends 3-5 minutes of warm-up activity, such as jumping jacks or running in place, before stretching. Don’t skimp on the cool-down stretch, either. It helps keep muscle soreness at bay.
  9. Don’t overdo it. Practice is great. Too much practice, though, can lead to overuse injuries. Your muscles need time to rest between practices.

There’s a lot that goes into safe gymnastics training, and there’s a lot of fun to be had. But we’d rather you didn’t train at all than engage in unsafe training.

With that in mind, here are some safe exercises that you can do at home that will improve your performance for when you get to the gym.

  • Strength training: Gymnastics is as much about strength as it is agility. Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, planks, and lunges can help you build the muscle mass required to get the most out of your training.
  • Flexibility training: Range of motion exercises help to stretch your ligaments and reduce your chance of injury. Neck and back stretches can help with backbends, and stretching your legs will make your splits better and easier.
  • Techniques: There are a few techniques that are generally safe enough to practice at home, as long as they’re done with proper form. These include rolls, cartwheels, backbends, and handstands. A note on backbends, though: Children under 7 years of age should not be allowed to do them. Before that age, their spines are not developed enough to handle the stress, which could result in serious injury.

We at All-Star Gymnastics and Cheer want you to enjoy gymnastics as much as we do. But you can’t do that if you get hurt. So train, but train safely.

Live around Springfield, MO? Gymnastics classes are just a phone call away! (417)725-1304

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