GymSAFE: Making Gymnastics Safer for All
Reducing injury rates and enabling communication for the gymnastics community
Founded by Dr. Alyssa Herrera-Set, DPT and co-founder Jessica Wickizer, gymSAFE is a non-profit organization dedicated to decreasing injury rates in gymnastics. gymSAFE was formed to bridge the gap between the PT world and the coaching world; for professionals to learn together to make our favorite sport as safe as possible. Their vision is to promote the concept that injury prevention is a vital component of gymnastics excellence. Through this vision, the gymSAFE Movement Screen was developed. The screen evaluates a gymnast's strength, flexibility, and movement patterns.
The gymSAFE Movement Screen
The screen only takes 15 minutes, and they have a fantastic app that outputs the data, so they can test an entire team in a weekend.
“Each gymnast receives individualized results, and coaches also receive feedback on program-wide trends. 'Red-flags' such as weakness, imbalance, or movement dysfunction which may predispose one to certain injuries common in competitive gymnastics are identified,” says Wickizer.
After the screen is complete, the gymSAFE team teaches an Injury Prevention Clinic. Gymnasts and their coaches learn prehab exercises to address their "red-flags" before they become injuries. The gymSAFE Instagram is also regularly updated with new exercises which can be used as a tool for professionals to help reduce injury in their own gyms.
“We believe that spreading knowledge, tools, and awareness throughout the gymnastics community will reduce injury rates;” says Wickizer. gymSAFE is currently participating in a research study which will track and compare injury rates over time.
Healthy Gymnast Symposium
This year, gymSAFE will conduct its second annual Healthy Gymnast Symposium. It's an event that brings together a community of professionals who love gymnastics, but also believe more can be done to keep gymnasts healthy.
“At gymSAFE, we are focused on injury prevention and prehab exercises,” says Herrera-Set, “but we realize that is only a small part of keeping gymnasts healthy. It literally takes a village, and we each have a role to play.”
This year's Healthy Gymnast Symposium theme is "Communication: More Talk, More Chalk".
There is no doubt that gymnasts need to listen to their coaches (and parents). But, gymnasts also need to listen to their bodies, and be able to communicate how they are feeling with their coaches, parents, and medical providers. Wickizer says, “If we can't talk about a problem, we can't make it better. After the events that have unfolded this past year in our sport, we want to help our athletes to find their voice, and give our attendees some tools for effective communication.”
Herrera-Set adds, “We have assembled some of the brightest minds in the business to lead the discussion, including an MD, a nutritionist, a sports psychologist, and a researcher, all of whom specialize in gymnastics.
To the Future
“One of newest goals is to create a Youth Advisory Board which will allow local athletes to practice leadership skills, organize events, and create a platform for athlete voices,” says Herrera-Set. “We are so excited to watch gymSAFE grow its membership. We will be announcing the details of this board at the Symposium.”
The co-founders want gymSAFE to be a positive force in gymnastics, keeping athletes healthy and happy, and participating in the sport that we all love. However, and wherever they can accomplish that goal, that is where gymSAFE is headed next!
We at Destira are proud to support gymSAFE and help to promote injury prevention for the gymnastics community.
This year’s Healthy Gymnast Symposium will take place at the Belmont Sports Complex on June 3rd from 4:00-6:00pm.
Tickets to the symposium are still available through the link on their Instagram page: discovergymsafe, as well as through the ticket link on their website: m.bpt.me/event/3428380
Stop on by to chat with the college panel, to learn more about injury prevention and to win some Destira swag!
For more information on gymSAFE’s mission and the symposium visit: www.discovergymsafe.org
Hello to Darcy Matsuda! Accomplished gymnast, Darcy, modeled leotards for Destira in 2015. She's now attending the University of Pennsylvania. We are so happy to have the chance to see her brilliant spark again at this year's Healthy Gymnast Symposium, where she'll be part of the college panel.