An investigation to determine whether there is a relationship between restricted ankle movement and the risk of lower limb injuries in female cheerleaders
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Introduction Sporting injuries are becoming frequently more common in cheerleading as more gymnastics and stunts are being incorporated into the sport. The object of this study was to find out whether low range of motion in the ankle increases the risk of lower limb injury in female cheerleaders. Method This was done by measuring ankle dorsiflexion with a tractograph and by giving out a questionnaire on past and current injuries to see what the most common type and location of injury was in cheerleaders. Dorsiflexion measurements were taken with the knee extended and with the knee flexed. This was done as gastrocnemius muscle tightness can affect the range of motion on the ankle when the knee is extended. Each measurement was taken three times and the average was calculated to give a mean value for non injured subjects and injured subjects as well as calculating the standard deviation and range of both groups. Results Results showed that on average, subjects who had not had any injuries had a higher range of movement with a mean dorsiflexion measurement of 13.7 with knee extended and 14.5 with knee flexed. Subjects who had been injured whilst cheerleading had lower dorsiflexion measurements of 8.2 with knee extended and 12.8 with knee flexed. This difference in knee extended and knee flexed measurements could be due to gastrocnemius muscle tightness. However error bars using standard deviations overlapped showing there was no significant difference between injured and non injured subjects when taking into consideration error margins. Questionnaire results showed that the ankle was the most common place of injury accounting for 75% of the injuries with the knee at 25% and the most common type of injury was a sprain at 75% and a tear with 25%. Conclusion Overall the study shows that on average cheerleaders who have a lower range of movement in the ankle are more likely to have had an injury however the difference is not significant enough to say that low ankle range of motion increases the risk of lower limb injury. It also shows that the ankle is the most common site of injury in cheerleaders and the most common type of injury is a sprain.
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