Because gymnastics is a sport that primarily is enjoyed by young people, it’s of no real surprise that safety is rule number one. Young gymnasts are often plagued by injuries due to the risky nature of the sport, and the constant impact damage to the arms, legs, feet, and back can cause a lifetime of physical suffering and total removal from the sport, regardless of how much the child may enjoy it. This is why it’s so important for gymnasiums to have mats with a high make up of energy absorbing material.
The quality of the gymnastic mats is of top concern because gymnasts spend so much time training, which increases the possibility of injury. With the addition of proper gymnastic mats made of proper energy absorbing material, however, injuries to the gymnast can be lessened, if not eliminated completely. The quality of the gymnastics mat and its ability to prevent bodily damage depends on several factors, including its thickness, the materials it is made of, and how it is used.
There are essentially three types of gymnastic mats when it comes to thickness – 1 3/8 inches, 2 inches and 2 3/8 inches. Because the mat’s thickness is what determines its ability to prevent stress impact related injuries, this is what gyms consider first when purchasing gymnastic mats for their programs. All gymnastic events utilize mats, but some events have a much higher probability of stress impact related injuries, such as floor exercise and vault, and therefore will require a thicker mat.
Thinner gymnastic mats are useful for general exercise and warm up stretching, but because they are not made with as much energy absorbing material, not for higher impact activities such as tumbling. The thicker the gymnastic mat is, the more ideal it is for tumbling and other high impact gymnastic events. The thickest mats available are ideal for highest impact events because they provide an ideal amount of stress impact reduction and provide suitable rebound for high level skills.
Polyethylene foam is the most ideal material for gymnastic mats. It has been also recognized as the international standard for gymnastics. These specialized foams are firm closed cell materials that have the ability for strong rebounding and are lightweight and durable. This type of foam is great for casual or serious tumbling and other gymnastic activities. These types of mats are also ideal for wrestling, martial arts, or other high impact activities because of the energy absorbing material in their makeup.
While these specialized gymnastic mats do provide some protection against bodily injuries due to shock impact, injuries do inevitably occur, especially in the case of high level gymnasts, who spend many hours a day in the gym training. These gymnasts often are competing internationally and need to be up and tumbling again as soon as possible, even after an injury. Shock management specialists, Sorbothane, have energy absorbing materials that are featured in a product called ShockSox. Many of the highest level gymnasts use them for training following a time of injury to absorb almost 95% of impact in athletic activity. The product allows gymnasts to return to their top game more quickly, as well as help to prevent further impact injuries.
Interested in learning more about Sorbothane’s solutions? Contact us today.