OBJECTIVES: An 18 month prospective injury survey was conducted on 64 Australian elite and subelite female gymnasts. The aims were to determine the rate of injury, anatomical location, and types of injury incurred by female competitive gymnasts, and to compare the findings with data collected retrospectively from the same sample of gymnasts. METHODS: The gymnasts recorded (weekly) in an injury record booklet the number of hours trained and information on any injuries suffered over that week. RESULTS: The sample reported 349 injuries, a rate of 5.45 per person (6.29 for the elite and 4.95 for subelite gymnasts) over the 18 month survey. Injuries to the ankle and foot (31.2%) were the most commonly reported, followed by the lower back (14.9%). The most prevalent type of injury were sprains (29.7%), followed by strains (23.2%), and growth plate injuries (12.3%). The elite gymnasts reported that, for each injury, they missed fewer training sessions (p = 0.01), but modified more sessions (p = 0.0001) than their subelite counterparts. Further, the elite gymnasts spent 21.0% of the year training at less than full capacity because of injury. Although a significantly higher number of injuries were recorded in the prospective study (p = 0.0004), no differences were found between the distribution of injury by anatomical location or type between the two methods of data collection. CONCLUSIONS: The findings have important implications in terms of training procedures and periodic screening of gymnasts.
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