Return to competitive gymnastics training in the UK following the first COVID-19 national lockdown

Tejal Sarika Patel, Alex McGregor, Sean Cumming, Karen Williams, Sean Williams

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Following the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the UK entered a national lockdown, and all sport was suspended. The study aimed to explore the process of returning to gymnastics training after several months away from the gym, with a particular interest towards training load and injury. Twenty-six, national programmed gymnasts from Men's artistic, Women's artistic and Trampoline gymnastics recorded training load and injury whilst returning to training. At the end of data collection, three coaches were interviewed to further explore the experiences and practices of returning to training. Home-based training during lockdown was seen as beneficial in maintaining a level of fitness. Coaches described a gradual increase in training to reduce the risk of injury, and this partly explains a non-significant association between training load and a substantial injury (p = 0.441). However, week-to-week changes in training load following periods of additional restrictions (additional lockdown, periods of isolation, or substantial restrictions) were not always gradual. There was a significant association between an injury in the preceding week (niggle or substantial injury to a different body part) and a substantial injury in the subsequent week (RR: 5.29, p = 0.011). Monitoring training was described to be a useful practice during the process of returning to training. Coaches believed that although the short-term development of their gymnasts was affected, the long-term development would not be impacted from COVID-19. It is anticipated that learnings from this study can be applied to future practices and situations, particularly when gymnasts are away from the gym for an extended period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalScandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue number1
Early online date24 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022


  • COVID-19
  • gymnastics
  • injury
  • niggles
  • return to training
  • training load
  • trampoline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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