There is no doubt that in the last decade, the rates of elbow injuries in young gymnasts has seemed to skyrocket. More than ever, overuse injuries like OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans), stress fractures, and growth plate injuries like triceps apophysitis plague gymnasts when allowed to snowball over time. I’ve treated too many gymnasts who lost their season, needed pretty serious surgeries and rehabilitation, or even quit gymnastics, due to issues like these.
Along with counting the number of impact skills taken, respecting work to rest ratios, and tracking growth, early detection of elbow pain is by far the most important thing to prevent long-term issues. To help everyone in the gymnastics community out, I filmed a short 2-minute video with 3 must know signs for when a gymnast needs to see a doctor to rule out something more serious. These are things I wish I knew as a younger coach!
Just to recap, the 3 things that always make me nervous for a more serious elbow injury are
Loss of end range straightening or bending motion
Buckling with weight bearing skills or press up test
Sharp or catching pain on outside elbow, especially if greater than 3 days
For those who are curious, I have an entire medical chapter in the new free gymnastics e-book I wrote that covers everything I’ve thought about for elbow injuries, and much more. You can download it here at no cost,
Changing Gymnastics Culture:
Reflections, Lessons, and Thoughts for the Future
By Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
*Over 3000 Worldwide Downloads*