As movies and musicals such as “Bring It On” have shown, cheerleading is most definitely a sport.
Right here in town, we have several young ladies who can back up that statement – last month, Lemont High School's cheerleading squad brought home the 2014 IHSA Medium Division Cheerleading State Championship.
The sport has even evolved to the point where it has its own nationally recognized week. Since 2005, the first week in March has been recognized as National Cheerleading Week to bring attention to the hard work and dedication of cheer athletes.
Like most sports, cheerleading is not for the weak – it's requires strength, flexibility and explosive movements. As podiatrists at DM Foot and Ankle, Dr. Diana Emini and I know that young men and women who cheer can be prone to injuries such as ankle sprains as a result of landing off-balance or on the edge of a mat after jumping or tumbling. Fractures are also common from the impact of repeatedly landing hard from dismounts.
We see many young athletes in our Lemont office, and no matter what sport they play, we advise everyone to wear proper athletic shoes.
In general, athletic shoes should have the following qualities:
They should be well-fitted enough to be comfortable, but well-constructed and appropriate for the sport you are playing. A good fit will prevent blisters and other skin irritations.
For serious athletes, sports-specific shoes are a good investment, but may not be as critical for non-athletes. Don't wear an athletic shoe -- or other shoes – beyond their useful life.
We suggest sturdy shoes of proper width with leather or canvas uppers, soles that are flexible at the ball of the foot, cushioning, arch supports and room for your toes. Pair your shoes with a well-cushioned sock, preferably one that “wicks” away moisture.
Replace athletic shoes after one year. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine advises replacing running or walking shoes after 300 to 500 miles of wear, and replacing aerobic, basketball, and tennis shoes after 45 to 60 hours of wear.
Whether you're a young athlete or just planning to play outdoors once spring arrives, call our office if you need help picking a sports shoe. We have several we recommend and can help you narrow your choices.
We want to make sure all our local athletes stay safe while they play, and congrats again to Lemont's state-championship-winning cheerleaders!
By Michelle Kim