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Published on September 10, 2012

Cheerleading Injury Prevention: Cardio, Core and Plyometrics

There is no way to completely ensure the lack of injuries. However, with the proper conditioning, you can decrease the likelihood of injuries.

My prior blog post gave a background on injury prevention in cheerleading, including how to improve the safety of you or your child while participating in cheerleading. As previously mentioned, there is no way to completely ensure the lack of injuries. However, with the proper conditioning, you can decrease the likelihood of injuries.

In my 9 years of collegiate coaching, I have discovered 3 important areas of physical conditioning as they pertain to cheerleading.

Cardiovascular conditioning
Collegiate football games can last up to 4 hours. Although they may not be doing skills the entire 4 hours, cheerleaders are expected to stay on their feet and keep the crowd energy up via chants, skills, and fight songs that can all be quite taxing. I find that as the cheerleaders fatigue, their technique gets worse thus increasing the risk of injury. I recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 times per week at the very least.

Core fitness
This was covered earlier in a great post on Core Stability Training. In cheerleading, the tighter the core of the girl in the air, the less the stunt will move, thus minimizing the risk of falling. For bases, the better the core strength, the less likely the cheerleader is of getting back injuries while putting up and holding stunts.

Plyometrics
Plyometrics develop leg power and explosiveness, which helps with a wide range of cheerleading skills. For bases, leg power allows bases to get stunts up smoother and faster with proper technique. For flyers, the quicker a girl can “step and lock” or “jump and flick”, the easier the stunt will go up. For standing tumbling, most of the power and speed comes from the legs. With the lack of a nice strong jump, cheerleaders’ standing tumbling will be lower, which increases the risk of injury by “landing short.”

Included in the blog are several plyometric exercises you can do at home three to five times per week. Try working up to doing one continuous minute of each exercise with one minute of rest between exercises.

Written by:
Nami Stone, DPT, (Doctor of Physicial Therapy) at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and Asst. Cheerleading Coach at the University of Kansas

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