Gymnastics is an amazing sport that can develop mental toughness, physical skill, and perseverance. However, gymnastics can be hard on the body. Here are some of our favorite natural solutions for gymnasts.
Natural solutions for sore muscles
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Sore muscles can accompany any intense sport. Gymnastics is no exception. We use lots of tools to keep our gymnasts feeling and performing their best. Heat is the preferred comfort measure in our home above ice. We love these heating packs that we can reuse over and over. For tight larger muscle groups, we use this foam roller to break up some of the tension. For smaller knots or tight spots, we like this massage hook to target specific areas. Occasional use of this massage gun makes giving a massage when needed a little less labor intensive. Make sure to supervise the use with young athletes, follow the directions, and use caution.
For overall body soreness after a hard workout, Epsom salt baths are a great relief. Read about the essential oils and lotion we use here. The magnesium lotion we use to help calm emotions is also beneficial for sore muscles.
Solutions for torn up hands
Bars is a balance of toughening up the hands with some callouses, building hand strength, and treating, protecting, and healing rips. Before rips happen, thick callouses may need to be filed down a little with a pumice stone in the shower. Keeping the callous from getting too thick helps prevent really large rips.
Once a rip has occurred, treatment includes cleaning it well to prevent infection. Fresh rips can be soaked in extra warm water with Epsom salts. Once it is well clean, I have my gymnast use this rip balm nightly to help heal the skin and keep it from drying out. Tape grips can be made with athletic tape. Some people may choose to purchase premade tape grips to protect raw skin as it heals while continuing to train.
Once Biggs got to a particular level of big swings, she needed these gymnastics grips. Her coach suggested these one’s with a single strap at first to minimize the practice time taken by getting them on and off. In the future, she will likely use the double buckles for durability.
It is not secret that gymnastics can be hard on the joints. At times, bracing weak joints is needed to facilitate healing. Other times strengthening for long term stabilization is the best route to prevent future injury. When support is needed, coaches and sports medicine are good for guidance. For Biggs, she just added these Tiger paws to her daily gymnastics accessories to help with her recurrent wrist pain from the impact from tumbling and vaulting. She has found the support has helped her go big, without the fear of pain.
For short term, light ankle support, Biggs liked this ankle brace, with the added bonus of easy heat or cold. Remember to talk to coaches or sports medicine professionals to determine the best option for your particular situation. Read about our recent experience and survival tips for a more serious injury here.
Strength for protection
We utilize extra strength and conditioning at home. Part of this is to implement movement for focus. The other goal is increased strength, targeted to the specific areas that are lacking for my gymnasts. Both of my gymnasts are tall and lean. For continued gymnastics success, they will have to work extra hard on core strength to control their length when navigating the set distances between bars. Check out some of our favorite home gymnastics equipment here, which was a life saver during covid restrictions. Beyond that, we have utilized this chin up bar for arms and core. Good strength helps protect gymnasts from injury.
Flexibility is not a natural strength for anyone in our family. My gymnasts are no exception. The girls have to work extra hard to achieve the expected levels of flexibility to perform in both dance and gymnastics. They have enjoyed using this stretch strap as a variation to standard stretches. These resistance bands has also been beneficial, both for stretching and strength. Doing kicks with these has been a huge help with active flexibility needed for leaps and jumps.
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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.