Stunt Safely — Four Tips for Cheerleaders

Former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher Kristin Kinkel comes from a background in cheerleading. A former Varsity Spirit Corporation judge and Portland Trailblazers Stunt Team member, Kristin Kinkel traveled frequently and often ran special clinics and workshops for cheerleaders.

All athletes must practice their skills safely, whether they are professionals or just starting out. If you participate in cheerleading stunts, consider the following safety tips to avoid serious injuries.

- Focus on conditioning. Many common strain injuries can be prevented or mitigated with strength and flexibility training. For this reason, many cheerleaders do strength training in the off-season.

- Warm up and stretch before every practice or performance. Jumping jacks and jogging help muscles warm up, which can help prevent injuries.

- Practice in safe environments. Cheerleaders should always practice stunts on foam mats, never a hard floor. Proper spotting is also important. Spotters should always be close by, especially when new stunts are being learned.

- Tend to any injuries immediately, and know when to take the time to heal. Continuing to practice or perform while you are injured can exacerbate the injury and extend the healing time.