Journal of Physical Therapy Science
Online ISSN : 2187-5626
Print ISSN : 0915-5287
ISSN-L : 0915-5287
Original Articles
The Influence of Somatotype, Strength and Flexibility on Injury Occurrence among Female Competitive Olympic Style Gymnasts —A Pilot Study
Karen J. WrightCarl De Crée
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1998 Volume 10 Issue 2 Pages 87-92


Objectives—A pilot project to investigate somatotype, strength and flexibility as risk factors for injury amongst female competitive gymnasts. Methods—Fifteen subjects (ranging in age from 8 to 18 years) volunteered to participate in the present study. An ex-post facto study design using independent samples was employed. Injury history was established through use of a questionnaire. From this information, each individual’s injury status was categorised as either “high” or “low” using a previously designed and validated scoring system. Somatotype ratings were determined, followed by a battery of tests to assess muscular endurance and strength, and flexibility. Results—A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed that there was no significant difference between groups of low and high injury rates and the dependent variables selected. However, univariate analysis suggested trends indicating that the low injury subjects were more flexible (back extension & ankle dorsiflexion) than those who had reported more injuries (both P=0.013). Independent t-tests revealed that between groups of low and high injury rates there were significant differences in age (P=0.002), stature (P=0.006), body mass (P=0.001), and years of gymnastics training (P=0.016). Conclusions—In the present study, strength and somatotype proved not to be good indicators of an individual’s susceptibility to injury. However, there were trends suggesting that low levels of flexibility may predispose a gymnast to injury. The incidence of injury may also be related to the number of years an individual has participated in competitive gymnastics. In addition, older, taller and heavier gymnasts may be at greater risk of incurring injuries. It is concluded that training methods should be adapted to suit the needs of each individual, depending on their age, stature and body mass. It is also recommended that coaches become aware of which individuals may be more predisposed to injury by carrying out a physical assessment prior to participation.

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© 1998 by the Society of Physical Therapy Science
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