An assessment of high school cheerleading: injury distribution, frequency, and associated factors

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2004 May;34(5):261-5. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2004.34.5.261.


Study design: Mail survey of cheerleading-related training and injuries.

Objective: To collect and describe injury frequency, distribution, and associated factors related to the activity of cheerleading.

Background: Estimates indicate that more than 1 million participants are involved in cheerleading at various levels; however, little information exists relative to injuries and training. Unlike most other sports, cheerleader injuries are not tracked in a central database.

Methods and measures: High school cheerleaders (mean age, 16.3 years) in 3 midwest states completed questionnaires mailed to their respective high schools. Of the surveys mailed to 104 schools, 425 (32.2%) were returned and sufficiently completed for analysis.

Results: Participants reported an average of 4.1 years of experience and 61.9% of the respondents had sustained 1 or more career injury. During the previous year, 41.3% had sustained 1 or more injuries (mean +/- SD, 1.7 +/- 1.9), resulting in an average of 3.4 reported missed practice or performance days. Of all injuries, the ankle (24.4%), back (16.1%), and wrist or hand (15.6%) were the most frequent sites of injury.

Conclusion: The rates of injury in cheerleading are comparable to rates of other sports. To accurately provide safety guidelines for all levels of cheerleading, a nationwide injury tracking system is necessary.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ankle Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Back Injuries / epidemiology
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Elbow / injuries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Wrist Injuries / epidemiology