We've Got Spirit and Safety Concerns

By Health Day

Cheerleading is no longer just "pom poms" and splits. It's become a popular year round sport that features complicated acrobatics. with millions of girls on private and school teams.

The increased use of stunts and tumbling is leading to a big jump in injuries. While most are sprains and strains, cheerleading is blamed for 65-percent of all catastrophic injuries in female high school athletes from 1982 to 2009.

That's why both the National Athletic Trainers Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are now calling for cheerleading to be made an official sport subject to the rules and regulations of school athletic departments and sports governing bodies. Their new safety recommendations include required training and certification for coaches, pre-participation physical exams, safety training and strength programs for cheerleaders, limits on the size of the pyramids and rules about the surfaces cheerleaders practice and perform on.

Although most high schools and colleges have cheerleaders, only 29 state high school athletic associations currently recognize cheerleading as a sport and the National Collegiate Athletic Association does not include competitive cheerleading in its list of sponsored sports.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with health information for healthier living.

This content requires the latest Adobe Flash Player and a browser with JavaScript enabled. Click here for a free download of the latest Adobe Flash Player.