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How to Help Gymnasts With Lower Back Pain and Reoccurring Injuries

In today’s episode, I’m joined by sports physical therapist Shelley Anderson, PT, DPT, CSCS, and the Assistant Director of Therapy at Godspeed Health and Performance in Birmingham, AL to discuss the main reasons for back pain in these athletes and how to help them overcome it.

One of the main causes of lower back pain in gymnasts and cheerleaders is repetitive strain from tumbling, stunting, and landing impacts but it is not the only reason.

It’s important to identify the specific type of back pain someone is experiencing in order to treat it properly. 

In the first few weeks of pain, the focus should be on pain relief and reducing inflammation through rest and medication.

As pain improves, rehabilitation exercises can be implemented to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. 

Shelley provides specific examples of exercises and progressions that can be used to help athletes at the beginning, middle and advanced phases of recovery. 

These include core stability exercises, hip strengthening exercises, and back exercises.

It’s important to note that each athlete’s recovery will be unique and may require a tailored program and Shelley stresses the importance of proper form and technique during exercises to prevent further injury.

Overall, with proper diagnosis and treatment, gymnasts and cheerleaders can overcome lower back pain and return to their sport. 


For medical providers interested in learning more, Shelley will be giving a lecture on this topic at the 2023 Shift Symposium. 

Tickets are available at:



We discuss:

  • Why back pain isn’t just caused by too many backhand springs.
  • Breaking down pain in skills. 
  • How too screen for back pain? 
  • Why lying on your stomach is good for back pain.
  • The importance of setting expectations early.
  • What does rehab look like for lower back pain?
  • How to reintroduce impact to athletes recovering from back injuries. And…
  • Exercises do build back power after injury.

How to Help Gymnasts With Lower Back Pain and Reoccurring Injuries


Hope it helps!

– Dave

Dr. Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS
CEO/Founder of SHIFT Movement Science