In working with developing young gymnasts, it is paramount to keep the athletes longevity and future health in mind. The best way to do this is to prevent injury by maintaining proper movement patterns, and correcting imbalances in symmetry. Most gymnasts have a unbelievably strong core, legs, and arms. The downfall of the gymnast is not these pieces of the puzzle that is the body, but the places where these puzzle pieces of the body meet: the hips, the shoulders, and the neck. These intersections themselves are not weak, but they do end up with improper ordering during movement, which will eventually lead to movement disfunction and injury.
In a first part of this series, we will be looking at a way to teach the hips and core the proper movement patterning. We will be demonstrating an exercise to “wake up” the hip stabilizers and teach the body that the hips and subsequently the legs must be locked in place before the core can work. When performing this exercise, the left and right hemispheres of the body should be mirrored at the spine, keeping the body in alignment.