Anon Does doing gymnastics from a young age stunt growth?

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Feb 16, 2022
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I Google it several years ago and found only a couple of studies, which showed that for the average gymnast, the answer is - no. For high performing gymnasts, growth often was delayed but than once training hours decreased, growth resumed.
Personally, I tend to think that the sport just tends to attract smaller athletes to begin with. They tend to have an easier time learning the skills. Not sure this is still happening now but many years ago, high level coaches would look at parent bodies to determine the child's future height.
 
Feb 16, 2022
783
I think it depends, lets say we are talking specifically about high-level gymnasts who train high hours. Training at that high intensity can cause a gymnast to have low body fat and delays puberty. Now I don't know if you're talking about height or overall growth, but I think that gymnastics can stunt growth both ways. For example, during covid, we had to take 2 1/2 months off, and some of my teammates and I grew a couple of inches or so. Then when we got back to the gym we didn't grow anywhere near as fast. (We kept track of this because some of us track our height on a wall). Now I don't know if it was coincidence or not but that is just my experience and I think it just all depends.
 

JBS

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You can find tons of studies online. Here's a fun one for everyone to read...


Be sure to read this one very carefully...

Conclusions:​

Final height is influenced by both height and the age of onset of the PGS in normal maturing children. A normal but early puberty exerts a negative effect on final height. A delayed PGS exerts a positive effect on final height.
 

Aussie_coach

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As others have said, gymnastics does not generally stunts anyone’s growth.

It’s a really outdated mode of thinking. People tend to look at the end result and draw conclusions. Gymnasts are more often on the shorter side because people are drawn to sports they do well in.

Gymnastics can be easier if you are short - lower centre of gravity, less strength needed to pull your body around etc. So shorter kids are more likely to choose gymnastics, stick with gymnastics and reach higher levels in gymnastics.

Just like basketball attracts taller players, but playing basketball does not make you tall.
 

RTT2

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Oct 9, 2015
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I definitely don't think gymnastics stunts growth. I am a little puzzled by the height trajectory in my own family. I'm the shortest female in a couple of generations in my family (5'2) and my daughter has stopped growing at almost 5'1. I don't think it's gymnastics, but I can't figure out where our extra inches have gone since mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great-grandmothers were all a few inches taller.
 
Feb 16, 2022
783
I’m not sure why this was posted anonymously, but it seems like many good threads are.

My understanding is that extreme exercise can retard growth and definitely some gymnasts exercise to that degree. This paper is one that looks at this issue from a couple different points of view: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8614759/

So, I think in sum, smaller people tend to gravitate towards gymnastics (and wrestling for boys) because most sports select on large size. They end up doing better, on average, because moving a big body is harder than moving a small one. So more small people stick with it long term, and then ultimately suffer from mildly stunted grown at the extreme end of the training spectrum.

So, maybe it’s a 5’1 woman who ends up 4’11 (my non-gymnast sister’s height btw) after a lifetime of gym. But it’s definitely not a 5’11 woman who ends up 4’11 due to gym.

With all that said, it seems like the ultra tiny (my daughter is 4’1.5 and 47lbs at almost 10) gymnasts are the exception not the norm. My daughter has been the girl at every gym that she has trained at. It’s only at states that we see multiple similarly sized girls.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
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I don't think it "stunts" growth per-say, but I do indeed think that it certainly delays girls that work high intensity / hours at that young age. I feel like this absolutely happened in my daughter. During Covid her training literally stopped and once back her hours were cut, guess what? she grew more than she has ever grown at once. Now that she has been back to her normal workouts and has very very low body fat she has not grown much at all. Just my theory from my own child.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
783
I don't think it "stunts" growth per-say, but I do indeed think that it certainly delays girls that work high intensity / hours at that young age. I feel like this absolutely happened in my daughter. During Covid her training literally stopped and once back her hours were cut, guess what? she grew more than she has ever grown at once. Now that she has been back to her normal workouts and has very very low body fat she has not grown much at all. Just my theory from my own child.
It’s irrefutable that under nourishment leads to stunted growth.

It’s not that far of a leap to suspect that normal nourishment combined with high hours leads to insufficient caloric intake to support normal growth on top of the training.

Michael Phelps ate 8-10,000 calories a day when he was seriously training. I definitely don’t know any 30 hour a week gymnast who eats like that, and some of them are growing kids!
 
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Feb 16, 2022
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It’s irrefutable that under nourishment leads to stunted growth.

It’s not that far of a leap to suspect that normal nourishment combined with high hours leads to insufficient caloric intake to support normal growth on top of the training.

Michael Phelps ate 8-10,000 calories a day when he was seriously training. I definitely don’t know any 30 hour a week gymnast who eats like that, and some of them are growing kids!
Absolutely! Even though I want to think of that as a slap in the face as a parent that it sounds like i underfeed my kid, i know its a fact that there is no way she would eat enough to sustain the 30 hours a week of training she was doing. Even now i know she should try and eat more..
 
Feb 16, 2022
783
Absolutely! Even though I want to think of that as a slap in the face as a parent that it sounds like i underfeed my kid, i know its a fact that there is no way she would eat enough to sustain the 30 hours a week of training she was doing. Even now i know she should try and eat more..
I get it. My daughter, since birth, has tracked in the 5th percentile of height and weight. She's almost 10 and currently below the "normal" growth band for an 8 year old. I've never measured her body fat percentage but it's definitely lower than mine has ever been, even when I was exercising and dieting for looks as a shredded 20 year old. Is it because of her gym and eating? Possibly to some extent. Or maybe it's because her dad (me) is a 40 something man who's 5'7 and 135 pounds (with an adult 4'11 sister) and her mom was around 5'1 and gained like 30 pounds while pregnant.

I think that it's natural for the human body to adapt to the tasks that you make it perform. The body will tell you when it's not getting what it needs. My max lift decreased, and my recover time increased, dramatically when I started to get really lean. If I didn't listen to my body I got injured. If your kid can do high hours at gym without getting constant repetitive stress injuries then clearly her nutrition is on point.