Biggs has accomplished so much to be proud of in her gymnastics journey. However, she has some aspects of gymnastics that she has always struggled with. For a long time, I believed that because of how she was built, there was little she could do about it. More than 5 years into competing, I pieced together information from multiple sources. This lead to how back-walkovers turned homeschool study.
It shouldn’t hurt
The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.
High intensity sports definitely tend to come with some discomforts. Check out my post here on how we handle some of the common discomforts of gymnastics. However, pain should be heeded to determine a cause. Sometimes pain is a result of an injury. Other times pain can be related to undue stress on joints due to improper technique. Sometimes there are muscle imbalances and growth that leave joints vulnerable. Check out my post here about how beneficial PT was for my gymnast.
For Biggs, the back walkover was the main culprit for her pain. Strong back and shoulders further limited her lacking back flexibility. She had compensated with stronger muscles and ended up with weak glutes and hip flexors. There were multiple factors that contributed to her poor form that caused so much pain. We have talked a lot about pain, and when it’s part of the process, and what might indicate the need for evaluation and/or treatment.
PT takes time
Physical therapy was our solution to assess and properly target all of the muscle weaknesses, imbalances, and mobility challenges. But PT takes time for appointments, and lots of additional work at home to be effective. But there is so much learning that can take place through the process. We have taken advantage of the needed PT time for natural learning opportunities.
Back walk-overs turned homeschool study of the body
Physical therapy was a great natural learning opportunity to learn about the body. It was natural to learn names of muscles and joints, particularly those that we were targeting. The physical therapist taught the role of the tendons, muscles, and joints in her sport. We were able to learn the part nerves, soft tissue, and joint structure each play in flexibility. When we added a sprain to the process, we learned about blood flow, and causes of inflammation. We learned about growth plates, and why ignoring pain could have potentially long term negative impact.
Back-walkovers turned homeschool study of physics
Physics concepts impact the trajectory of pain and injury related to back-walkovers. How the spine curves, and how the weight transfer happens through the skill are important. Hand positioning, shoulder angles, etc., all play a part too. Gymnastics is all about physics!
Physical therapy homework
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My own research had led me to some great strengthening work at home to target skills. Check out my post here on some of my favorite home equipment. It was helpful to already have tools like these resistance bands, sliders, and yoga blocks at home. We were able to learn about the process of building and strengthening muscles and why it was important to do the homework assignments diligently.
My career is nursing, which is something that Biggs has expressed interest in. She is a caregiver by nature, and is often helping younger gymnasts at the gym with minor injuries. However, exposure to another part of the caregiving medical field was great to see another option. We even had the opportunity to work with a student, and learn the path needed to reach the career field.
Back-walkovers turned homeschool study of business
In our discovery process for Biggs gymnastics we stumbled upon https://shiftmovementscience.com/. This contained not only a wealth of useful knowledge, but also lots of ideas for business growth potential for PT in youth sports. We have learned the huge impact PT made in the sport for Biggs, and have since learned in gymnastics community that we are not alone. Biggs has learned how to brainstorm and plan for business ideas, and what makes a business successful. She has learned some of the pros and cons of running a business vs working for a large company. I love learning opportunities like this, as the goal is to always be looking at quality and improvement, in business and in life.
Gymnastics and homeschool takeaway
Lessons we’ve learned from the combination of gymnastics and homeschooling are the ability to constantly adapt. I have had lots of plans for how our homeschool year was going to go, and life has gotten in the way. Rather than give up, I have learned to adjust to life at that time. The same has been the case for gymnastics. Growth, minor injuries, and fears have all changed the expected trajectory. Adaptability is a lifelong lesson which will go beyond perfect test scores. In this case we just needed to adapt to both different learning paths and different tools for skills progression and health. Stay tuned for many more lessons on adapting to both gymnastics and homeschool life.