Cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports in existence, with head injuries being at the top of the list! Without proper training, cheerleaders can get seriously hurt when trying to attempt challenging stunts, tucks, and tumbles. Thankfully, safety regulations have been put in place over the years in an attempt to lower trips to the emergency room for cheerleaders, but even still, cheer injuries remain frequent and severe. Even when you’ve taken every precaution and you’re on a team with properly trained coaches or a sports med doctor, accidents can still happen–ones that can jeopardize your whole cheer season! Once you’ve immersed yourself in the cheer world, the last thing you want to do is sit out and watch your team go on without you. It’s heartbreaking! But, don’t despair: although you can’t bounce back to the mat or to the sidelines immediately following an injury, there are still ways to participate in cheerleading as your body heals.

1. Get to fundraising.
If you can’t participate at practice or in performance, might as well use your downtime for building the team bank! Ask your coach what the next planned fundraiser is, and if it’s still up in the air, offer to head up the campaign for them. Knowing how many things coaches juggle every season, chances are they will be very relieved to have fundraising help. Plus, advertising a fundraiser takes serious time and effort to be successful, so volunteering to do so helps everybody!

2. Help your coach.
Along the same lines of promoting a team fundraiser, your coach may need to get organized in more ways than one. Injured cheerleaders should still be attending practice and cheer events despite injury, so since you’re already there, you might as well offer to help! You know your teammates more than a parent or assistant coach, so you may be able to provide invaluable insight for team decisions, especially if your team captain is busy with other projects. Helping your coach may be as little as providing them another set of hands at practice! Juggling a whistle, clipboard, timer, music, and miscellaneous cheer gear is a lot easier with two people.

3. Focus on other areas of fitness
. This may sound contradictory to letting your body rest and heal, but there are other areas of fitness that you can focus on when you’re sitting out. For example, this is a good time to work on your flexibility–stretching the muscles that aren’t associated with your injury, of course. Also, this is a prime time to work on your mental health by catching up on your sleep and taking care of long-overdue to-dos. If you do, you will return to your team with not only maximum energy, but also a mind that’s sharp as a tack to learn new skills! Lastly, your fitness isn’t just dependent on exercise–what you eat is just as important! If you’ve let your diet slide over the season, this is the perfect time to get it back on track without the temptation to carb up on greasy food after practice. You’re not burning the same amount of calories, so be aware of what you eat now that you’re inactive, even if you’re eating relatively clean!

Have you recently worked through a cheer injury? What things did you do to stay active on your cheer team? Share your story in the comments!