The good news for cheerleaders is that their injury rates are lower than other high school sports. The bad news is that their injuries may be more severe and result in concussions, according to a recent study.
The average rate of injuries for cheerleading is less than one injury for 1,000 minutes of participation. This means no more than one accident every 17 hours. This injury rate is far below other sports, with only track and swimming having a lower rate. Injury rates are more than three times higher for girls’ soccer, and over four times higher for football.
“We believe cheerleading had a lower rate of injury than most sports because there is less athlete-athlete contact in cheerleading than the collision sports like football and lacrosse or even sports like soccer and basketball,” said lead study author Dustin Currie, a public health researcher at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Concussions are the most common injuries, and occur in about 31 percent of the cases involving cheerleaders. The rates are still far below all other sports.
“Although injury rates are low, when injuries do occur in cheerleading they tend to be more severe than when injuries occur in other sports (i.e. they tend to be concussions, fractures, etc.),” Curry said. “That may be because cheerleaders, due to the nature of the sport, are more likely to have falls from elevation – for example, flyers during stunts – or to land awkwardly or be struck by another athlete landing awkwardly – for example, bases during stunts.”