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Back walkover and poor shoulder flexibility in 7 year old

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NEGal

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I am new to CB and to the world of gymnastics. My 7 year old is on pre-team currently (level 1-2 equivalent) and we are not yet sure what the plan for her is going to be come June. We are still waiting to hear. She has done very well on pre-team, she is one of the stronger kids and does very well on bars (can do entire level 3 routine including FHS and mill circle) and strong at level 3 vault. Beam is okay as well. The issue is floor. She has poor shoulder flexibility. My question is this, how important is it to have a backbend kickover and back walkover before learning to do a back handspring and will this hold her back from progressing. My dd is very strong, has lots of power, strong hand stands for 5 sec but limited in flexibility, especially her shoulders. She is the only one on pre-team out of 12 girls who can not do a backbend kickover or back walkover consistently, she is at 25-30% at best. She also has trouble with handstand to bridge as feet come out from under her about 50% of time.

Her hips are a little better but still not all the way down in her splits (very close with her good leg though). She has done very well with all of the back handspring drills they have been working on and can do a BHS on the tramp, although form is not great. As I said, she is strong, not afraid to go backwards, can do all drills successfully, but just can't get the back walkover thing. She comes down at an angle rather than straight back if that makes sense. She can do it with good form with help from coach however.

I guess I am wondering if she could progress with the other girls and work on BHS or if she really should get the BWO first. Also will she always be limited in gymnastics because of her tight shoulders, even if we do stretches?

Thanks for any advice. I would love to hear from coaches and parents alike.
 

e'smum

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you need BWO in the floor routines. so yes, she needs to learn the BWO. i can't remember but i believe they do a handstand to backbend kick over in lvl 3 in addition to ROBHS and in lvl 4 they do a BWO in addition to ROdoubleBHS. she needs it.

i can't speak to anything else except to give it time.
 
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IreneKa

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Well, the issue here is not whether she'll be able to do her level 3 floor routine. I'm sure she will get those skills eventually, everyone does. The problem here is if she doesn't improve her shoulders flexibility, she will end up compensating with her lower back, which will lead to stress reaction and stress fracture.
Hopefully her coaches are aware of the problem and are working with her on it. But she shouldn't be forced to do the skills she is not ready for just for the sake of competing level 3. Keeping her back healthy is important for the rest of her gymnastics career and the rest of her life.
 

NEGal

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Thank you! Yes I completely understand that she will need to get her kickover/back walkover eventually but I was wondering if it makes sense to hold her back to get it or allow her to move forward with learning back handspring. We have not heard yet if she will move to train level 3 or not but I am thinking they will at least let her try. I didn't know if it would make sense for her to repeat pre-team (level 1/2) and get the flexibility first because as @IreneKa said, I am worried about her compensating with her lower back.
 

cadybearsmommy

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Someone posted a link a while back to some excellent shoulder stretches you can you at home that may help. Does anyone remember the link? Better to correct the shoulder flexibility issue now than let her learn the skill improperly and lead to back trouble like the previous poster was saying.
 
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IreneKa

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I'm not a doctor or a coach, but from my years of research while battling my DD's back problems, I know that BHS is much easier on the back than BWO. So she is probably okay working on her BHS, but should definitely avoid BWO until she has a proper bridge. Besides, she doesn't need BWO for L3, only handstand to bridge and kick over.
 

NEGal

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Someone posted a link a while back to some excellent shoulder stretches you can you at home that may help. Does anyone remember the link? Better to correct the shoulder flexibility issue now than let her learn the skill improperly and lead to back trouble like the previous poster was saying.
Thank you. I would love to see the link, I will try to search for it.
 

SeaActually

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Well, the issue here is not whether she'll be able to do her level 3 floor routine. I'm sure she will get those skills eventually, everyone does. The problem here is if she doesn't improve her shoulders flexibility, she will end up compensating with her lower back, which will lead to stress reaction and stress fracture.
Hopefully her coaches are aware of the problem and are working with her on it. But she shouldn't be forced to do the skills she is not ready for just for the sake of competing level 3. Keeping her back healthy is important for the rest of her gymnastics career and the rest of her life.
Amen!
 
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Gymnast C's mom

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sce

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Someone posted a link a while back to some excellent shoulder stretches you can you at home that may help. Does anyone remember the link? Better to correct the shoulder flexibility issue now than let her learn the skill improperly and lead to back trouble like the previous poster was saying.
You need to be careful with this too though. It may not be her shoulders but more her upper back. You can overstretch the shoulders and still not solve the problem. It might be good to get referred to physical therapy.
 
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cadybearsmommy

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You need to be careful with this too though. It may not be her shoulders but more her upper back. You can overstretch the shoulders and still not solve the problem. It might be good to get referred to physical therapy.
Physical therapy is never a bad idea...if you can get your doctor to prescribe it then that's definitely something to look into. It can be expensive if paying out of pocket though. I think some of the exercises stretch the upper back as well as the shoulders, not all but some of them.
 

NEGal

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My dd did not have good shoulder flexibility but with stretching at home and at the gym focusing on them in 6 months she drastically improved
That is super encouraging. Thank you. @sce and @cadybearsmommy I wondered if I should have her evaluated by a PT to see exactly where she is restricted and then we can more effectively target those areas. Maybe I will look into it.
 

Aussie_coach

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It is not nessesary to be able to do a back walkover in order to learn a back handspring. Take a look at the MAG, the boys can all generally do back handsprings well before back walkovers.

But as others have said, the shoulder flexibility issue needs to be addressed. If the shoulders are lacking it will out a lot more pressure on her lower back, with the intense training required for JO it will lead to problems if not addressed.
 
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Lilou

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This post sounds a lot like my 6 year old... We have recently started working about 15 minutes every few days at home on a few shoulder and upper back flexibility moves. I certainly do not want my daughter to compensate with her lower back and I've heard that more advanced gymnastics is much harder for kids with poor shoulder flexibility. But I'm also not forcing her to do them either. But at this age (and probably 7 too) they see their team mates, and they want to do what they need to in order to do the skills needed for the level the rest of their class is doing. My daughter really, really wants to do L3 in the Fall, so that seems to be her motivation for doing shoulder and back drills.
From what I see, they need the handstand- to bridge- to back kick over, and then round off BHS on L3. They'll need the back walk over on L4.
Good luck!! :) You're daughter's not alone.
 
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NEGal

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This post sounds a lot like my 6 year old... We have recently started working about 15 minutes every few days at home on a few shoulder and upper back flexibility moves. I certainly do not want my daughter to compensate with her lower back and I've heard that more advanced gymnastics is much harder for kids with poor shoulder flexibility. But I'm also not forcing her to do them either. But at this age (and probably 7 too) they see their team mates, and they want to do what they need to in order to do the skills needed for the level the rest of their class is doing. My daughter really, really wants to do L3 in the Fall, so that seems to be her motivation for doing shoulder and back drills.
From what I see, they need the handstand- to bridge- to back kick over, and then round off BHS on L3. They'll need the back walk over on L4.
Good luck!! :) You're daughter's not alone.
Thank you! Yes the handstand to bridge and kick-over is her nemesis right now. I am hoping some stretching helps. She too wants to stay with her teammates. We have not yet heard about move ups though
 

NEGal

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It is not nessesary to be able to do a back walkover in order to learn a back handspring. Take a look at the MAG, the boys can all generally do back handsprings well before back walkovers.

But as others have said, the shoulder flexibility issue needs to be addressed. If the shoulders are lacking it will out a lot more pressure on her lower back, with the intense training required for JO it will lead to problems if not addressed.
Thanks @Aussie_coach In your opinion do you think it is possible for a kid who is tight in the shoulders (and likely upper back) to make it to optionals with a good stretching program or is it more likely she will need to move to Xcel? I am fine with that if that's the case but she really wants to do JO. But of course her back is the number one priority.
 
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