Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Cheerleading Injuries on the Rise

Heightened Competition Makes Sport More Dangerous Than Ever Before

WebMD Health News

Oct. 22, 2002 -- As cheerleading has moved from the sidelines to center court, it's joined the ranks of other competitive sports as a leading cause of major injuries among girls. New statistics show cheerleading causes more catastrophic injuries resulting in paralysis or death among high school and college-age girls than any other sport.

Despite these dangers, experts say cheerleading receives little of the research, support, and preventive attention that other varsity sports such as football and baseball enjoy.

"We need to recognize that cheerleading is a sport and not sideline entertainment," says Sally Harris, MD, MPH, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California. Harris presented new data on cheerleading-related injuries this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

"Cheerleading is a rapidly growing sport, primarily for girls, but there is very little information about it, and hardly anything in the published medical literature," says Harris. "Yet we see girls with injuries from cheerleading that are more severe than with other sports."

Harris says cheerleading has evolved into a highly competitive sport that has very little to do with cheering. Today, it relies heavily on complicated gymnastics maneuvers, lifting, and multilevel pyramid building rather than just shouting and shaking pom-poms.

The high-impact nature of modern competitive cheerleading has prompted a rise in cheerleading-related injuries. Some of the most commonly reported injuries -- often the result of falls, dismounts, and weight-bearing stunts -- are to the ankle, knees, back, wrist, and hands.

In fact, Harris says, cheerleading has a higher proportion of injuries that turn out to be serious fractures and dislocations than is seen in other sports.

"Cheerleading is incredibly demanding on all body parts," says Harris. "And there is no off season."

As many as 5 million girls and young women currently participate in cheerleading in community, school, and college squads, and they often start as early as age 5.

Harris says the recent growth of organized, competitive cheerleading that happens outside of the schools has made the sport increasingly risky and more difficult to monitor for safety. But even school-sponsored cheerleading squads usually suffer from inadequate supervision, a lack of access to on-site medical care, and practice on inappropriate surfaces, such as gym floors or hallways.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy