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QUESTION: my daughter has returned to gymnastics at 13 years old after 3 years out. She is now competing level 7 and has come back very successfully, scoring over 37 in many meets. She has also dealt with many little overuse injuries, and has only trained at full capacity for about one month all year. From elbow, to foot to wrist, there has been something constantly affecting her training. Her coach has been very good with her and enabled her to rest and stop certain activities when appropriate. The question is whether at her age and with all that time off, her body will be able to cope with the physical demands this sports requires, or if this is something that will hinder her always. She loves gymnastics, but is also a very good dancer and I would like her see her persevere somewhere that she has a chance of success. If she takes this slowly do you believe she can come back and continue to enjoy this sport?

ANSWER: Hi Claire,
It sounds like your daughter has a very supportive environment, which is the reason I would say yes to your question.  However, given her background I would suggest she spend more time conditioning (and especially stretching) and less time working on skills.  I'm very familiar with taking time off from the sport and I can tell you from experience that the skills come back easily once the body is reconditioned, but until then expect injuries when doing familiar tricks that were easy before.  

It sounds like although she is taking it slow, when she takes it easy she needs to spend more time stretching and strengthening her muscles and ligaments.
Regards,
Robert

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you, she has been doing ballet, and rhythmic gymnastics during her time out so is still very fit and flexible, but some muscles and especially her upper body sounds like she needs more conditioning time. She also finished at a level 5  and came back quickly only doing one meet at 6 before moving to 7 and even some eight skills, so it sounds like her body just needs more conditioning. thanks again

Answer
Hi Claire,
Yes general conditioning from other sports is great, but there are many specific muscles that need to be strong and flexible in order to be safe doing gymnastics.  You can review the conditioning areas at http://www.drillsandskills.com for ideas of what she might try doing at home to help make her gym time safer and more productive.
Regards,
Robert

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Robert Davis

Expertise

I can answer questions about technique, strength and endurance training, healing from injuries, and competitions. I can also answer questions from parents of gymnasts, as I have six children of my own now. I plan to write a freely downloadable ebook or guide soon, go to www.LifeTimeGymnast.com to tell me what you want help with!

Experience

I competed in gymnastics for 16 years, from age 8 to 24, the last six of those years on the Arizona State Men's Gymnastics Team (www.sundevilgymnastics.com). After almost a 10 year hiatus I've returned to competition, see www.lifetimegymnast.com.

Publications
http://www.lifetimegymnast.com
http://www.goodfeelingplace.com
http://www.wilycode.com

Education/Credentials
I have a BSE and MS in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. During those 6 years I was a member of the Arizona State Men's Gymnastics Team as well.

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