Is "too much" back flexibility ever a problem?

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MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
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I just read up on how Shayla Worley was out of the VISA championships because of a sore back. That really sucks cause I sooo want her to be on the Olympic team! Anyway, if anyone remembers a little Hungarian named Henrietta Onodi back in the 1990's who also had extreme back flexibility and was out with back injuries towards the end of her career. My question is--does extreme back or lumbar flexibility play a role in injuries later in the gymnasts' career. The years and years of bending and stressing the back farther than most gymnasts would probably lead to problems.

My daughter has pretty extreme back flexibility now at age 9 so I am a bit concerned about her later in life. Is this something I need to be concerned with? If so, is there anything I can do now with her, strength training-wise to aviod these problems?
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I am not a doctor or an expert - but I have heard that it can be a problem. What I was told was that if the back is too flexible stress fractures in the spine are more likely than in those who girls who are not as extremely flexible. I would love to hear from someone would some concrete knowledge about it.
 

lucymaud

New Member
Sep 3, 2007
9
I don't have any answers, but I do remember Kristie Phillips talking after her gymnastics career was over about still having issues with her back, and she attributed it to the skills she did that emphasized her extreme back flexibility.
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
2,236
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I do remember Kristie having an extremely flexible back back in the day. I also heard recently somewhere that Shayla Worley is out with a herniated disc problem. I can totally relate to that because I had a herniated disc (L4/L5) that needed surgery in 1993. Mine was attributed to running--I was a competitive long distance runner in high school and college and did 10K's after that and all the years of running and pounding tore up my back. So, maybe with Shayla it is all the pounding from the landings.
 

charloadams

Member
Jan 26, 2008
71
Yeah I do think it has an impact on the futur because I use to be one of those very flexible gymnast, as you can see below;





But now, about 5 years later, I cannot even do a bridge anymore. I have a back problem, actually its a disease, that is going to give me problems my whole life...
 

bogwoppit

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My DD is just like Charloadams, she too had a freaky flex back when she was little, but now she has low back pain a lot. She has mild scoliosis and sciatic issues run on both sides of her family. I do feel that gym has not been the best thing for her back, and now we keep a close eye on her pain.

 

maddiekate

Member
Aug 8, 2007
303
West Coast
I was super-flexible when i was little. This video shows at 32 seconds one of the things i could do. (no, thats not me) Now my back hurts most of the time, and i am not that flexible. I don't think it is just because of the flexibility, i also have scoliosis, and have injured it a few times.
 

ahs

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The extreme back flexibility itself will not cause the injuries but it is what is done with it. Many gymnasts who have lower back flexibility will use when learning skills such as walkovers, instead of using shoulders the gymnast will allow the lower back to sag causing the pain later on. This sag that is used carries throughout the gymnasts career coaches usually keep on eye on this and although they may allow them to poses they will try to fix it on their skills. Keeping their lower ab strength is extremely important as well as proper bridge position.

I was very flexible in my lower back as a gymnast and had several back injuries during my career, I was told at 18 that if I didn't quit I would have problems for the rest of my life. And I would never be able to carry a baby full term because of the pain. I continued gymnastics until 21, during those 3 years I focused on lower ab strength and continued exercises for my back. I am happy to say that I had NO back problems during either of my 2 pregnancies.
 

Scout's Mom

Member
Oct 2, 2007
89
Texas
My daughter has a great deal of back flexibility. She suffered a stress fracture in her back at the age of 13. The doctor said that her flexibility caused her to be more vulnerable to back issues. He also said that once her growth plates closed, she'd be less likely to have problems. After being in a brace and taking it easy for several months, the back healed but she is a bit less flexible.

 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
I am kind of glad that the level that my dd is at now, Level 4, doesn't require this much back flexibility (see my previous post's pics) in a lot of the skills.

She also has poor posture, where she arches her back too much and lets her tummy stick out when she is just being natural around the house and stuff. I am thinking that she needs to learn to hold her stomach in and shoulders back to straighten out her back . Anyone have some good exercises at home to help with posture???

Thanks!
 
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heathersk8s2win

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stress fractures from flexibility

Hi everyone! My name is Heather, and I was a competitive figure skater for many years. I was always known for my extreme flexibility and grace on the ice. I started experiencing severe lower back pain and after several trips to the doctor's office for x-rays, nothing seemed to show up as being wrong. I kept up the skating and before I knew it, the problem was worse than ever. There was radiating pain down my legs. After being admitted to the hospital and given a CT scan, I was told that I had 5 stress fractures in my lower spine, a common injury in gymnastics and figure skating. It is super hard to detect on a normal x-ray. Its a problem that ended my figure skating career, and a problem I will deal with for the rest of my life. Its cause was "hyper- extension " to the spine. I was flexible my whole life, but after hitting a growth spirt, I was more prone to the injury. I know tons of girls who are gymnasts and skaters who have also suffered from a stress fracture to the lower back. If mine was caught earlier, it would have had a chance to heal, instead it just kept splitting off into more and more stress fractures. My advice would be to only bend over backwards ( literally) for competitions, and not in every day practice. Spinal injuries are hard to recover from, and extremely dangerous. I wouldn't wish this pain upon anyone-
 

dunno

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Apr 28, 2009
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it's really not a big deal at all. the body is sturdy. the body adapts and re-adapts then compensates. "gymnasts back" has been around since greek times. and it goes away once they leave gymnastics. i am telling you this from experience also.

the only time "to much" flexibility in the back is a problem is when you are missing vertebrae, missing several groups of pars or spondylolysthesis.

AND considering heathersk8s2win warning. spondylolysis is when 2 vertebrae "kiss" each other and cause bruising fractures. i can go in to the mechanism of injury if you would like but it could get lengthy. the point is that if your childs back is bothering him/her for than a month consistently is when you must see the Doc.

todays technology in ct's & mri/contrast/dye pick these things up the 1st time and sooner. there really is no excuse today to have to leave your sport because of a back condition.

also, i read above about the post on shayla. don't believe everything you hear. AND...EVERYONE and every living animal are born with bulging disks. obviously they present earlier in children due to sports.
 
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CoachGoofy

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I feel the need to be a voice of "not injured"! My back is way healthy!

As a gymnast I was a rubberbandchild, & my back is pretty much fine. I've got 2 similarly flexible T&Ters and they're thus far without complaint too. We do a lot of abs & work on shapes, but they're complaint-free.


4011370490_0e2dfcb0c9.jpg

(Pictured: CoachGoofy Oct 2009, playing around.)
 
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gymmom14

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Proud Parent
May 21, 2008
427
My dd has a very flexible back. Thankfully (and knocking on wood) she is pain free. She is a L8 gymnast. I have always joked about her flexible back being a hinderance in L4-L7. She has a hard time staying tight on her fhsp vault. Was always archy. Had a hard time learning her kip. (arched her back on the way up) etc. She has gotten a lot more core strength and is learning to control her archy back more.

emma 122910.jpg
 

MdGymMom01

Active Member
Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
Wow! This is an old thread!!! LOL I do have to say, since dd has stopped cheering and not having to stretch her back (for the scorpion) that way on a regular basis, she has lost some of the flexibility in her back. She could probably get back to that level of flexibility if she stretched everyday like she used to, but why bother? Many or her friends who still cheer and are flyers now suffer from back pain because of the constant stretching. It is sad really, considering they are only 12 years old :(.
 

dunno

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scorpions are poisonous and can be deadly. hence, the analogy used in gymnastics/cheerleading.
 
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dunno

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i don't know. i'm still searching for the smiling emoticons and such when i post. much easier than having to do this every time > :)

edited: wow. i typed colon the parenthesis and i see the smile emoticon. good to know.
 

gymgurl

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I would say yes, remember Hollie vise? she had immense back flexibility and ended up with a back injury that caused her to have to remove some of the extreme flexibility out of her routines. I also have a very flexible back and am encountering back pain which is two fold 1 part is i use my back muscles instead of my stomach muscles to do core strength which means my back gets really tight and when i bend into a bridge i only bend at the one vertebrate causing lots of pressure to be on that vertebrate that if i didn't see a physio i would most likely develop spondylolisthesis but i don't know whether this is to do with my back hyper extending and being overly flexible.

I can easily do a sheep jump, double stag ring jump (not sure of technical name but its double stag jump then my head back and foot above head)
 
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