Treating Our Gymnasts - Using The Evidence

We here at HealthFit are back to talk about another gymnastics related topic this week! As Physical Therapists (and Athletic Trainers) we rely heavily on evidence-based practice.

I’m sure not many have heard about this evidence-based practice so I thought I would share a little about it. Physical therapists and athletic trainers (along with other health care professionals) contribute research to a body of evidence, which helps dictate what we choose to utilize in our programming for patients.

Now, we look at more than just the research numbers because we need to take into account if it’s feasible to perform at our specific clinic, our own clinical experience and if the patient will be compliant with it.

All that aside, research is what tells us “We did these exercises and found this muscle was activated the most” or “We performed these exercises with this population and found that it helped them.”

As I was perusing some of the gymnastics research, there was an article I thought was interesting by Bassett and Leach1. They used a population of elite gymnasts aged 9-13 and put them through a core program 3 days a week for 8 weeks.

They used an overarching core test, which was tested before the initiation of the core program and after to evaluate how well the core program worked. Overall, they found that the gymnasts who participated in the core program performed better on the core test at the end of the 8 weeks!

You may be wondering why is that important to know?
We ALWAYS want gymnasts to have a strong core.

You can’t perform at the level they do without a strong core to build on but that doesn’t mean the fact that you can do 100 crunches in a row means you have a strong core. There are other muscles in play that need to be challenged and it’s research like the aforementioned that show we can efficiently train the core musculature in our elite gymnasts.

Here at HealthFit we take a look at the ENTIRE person! Not just what’s causing you pain right now but why that pain got there in the first place. Research can help us to find the most efficient way to program for you and help you get back to feeling your best self!

Dr. Mary Claire Malooly, DPT, ATC


  1. Bassett B.H. and Leach LL. The effect of an eight-week training programme on core stability in junior female elite gymnasts. African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance (AJPHERD). June 2011: 9-19.