Ankle sprains - These are some of the most common injuries to occur in the sport of gymnastics. This injury occurs most commonly during landings or dismounts from an apparatus when one or more of the ligaments connecting the ankle bones becomes overstretched or torn. In a growing gymnast, ankle sprains may be accompanied by a growth plate injury and special care should be taken by the medical professional when evaluating the ankle. Conservative care of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is frequently used to treat ankle sprains, in combination with activity modification.
Fractures - Gymnasts are no strangers to falling during training or competition. The gymnast may hit the foot or land awkwardly during a fall, especially with bar and beam skills, sometimes resulting in foot and toe fractures. These fractures are often caused by a direct blow or a violent twisting motion of the injured structure. Treatment typically includes a period of non or partial weight-bearing before gradually returning to activity once normal motion and strength are restored.
Sever’s Disease - This is a common cause of heel pain in the young gymnast. This pain is a result of traction from the Achilles tendon on the growth center at the back of the heel. In gymnastics, overuse or repetitive hard landings, especially with bare feet, may lead to this injury. Conservative treatment often consists of a stretching program, heel cups, and activity modification.
Ankle impingement - A gymnast may complain of pain at the front of the ankle after landing “short.” This ankle impingement is a result of extreme compression in the ankle joint. Due to the high impact of landing from a great height or under-rotating a backwards somersault, this happens frequently in gymnastics. Usually ankle impingement involves soft tissue inflammation but, in a more advanced case, may involve damage to the bony structures of the ankle. Treatment often begins with conservative care including modifications to training, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and taping to limit the end ranges of ankle motion.