For Coaches Gymnastics will STUNT your growth. Fact or Myth?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Tim_Dad

Member
Nov 3, 2008
414
Region IV (Missouri)
A conversation today with a co-worker about gymnastics brought up a topic that I often dismissed as unfounded. But... being open minded, I thought I'd ask the experts and those more 'in-the-know' then I.

Does Gymnastics have any adverse effect in a child athletes growth, or physical maturity? (i.e "stunt" growth, delay puberty, breast development, or menstration cycles?)

I only thought eating too much chocolate, and drinking coffee at a young age could "stunt" my growth. That's what Mom said at least.

My argument is: in this politically correct world, where the "saftey and well-being of children" is always in the spotlight, I can't imagine ANY activity that is excessively (or even potentially ) harmful to children being permitted.
 
Last edited:
C

CoachGoofy

Guest
Gymnastics doesn't stunt your growth any more than basketball makes you taller.

Female athletes who train many hours in ANY sport will have somewhat delayed puberty and smaller breasts (less body fat = smaller breasts and delayed puberty) but they do catch up.

The coffee and chocolate things are also myths.
 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
I think there are way too many variables for me to conclusively come to any scientific answer. Anecdotally, I think most small gymnasts were destined to be small and it's a relatively self selecting trait (although some gymnasts are relatively taller). And I also see no reason to believe that a proper training regime should significantly stunt growth, although it may delay it and in the extreme would most likely delay it.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

Former Admin
Gold Membership
Coach
Former Gymnast
Jan 21, 2007
4,337
Baltimore, MD
Country
USA
Gymnastics doesn't stunt your growth any more than basketball makes you taller.

Hey, that's my line!

Anyway, there are a number of studies which have concluded that there is a correlation between being short and doing gymnastics -- which, of course, is obvious from watching upper-level competition. However, correlation is not causation, and I have yet to see any evidence that leads me to believe gymnastics CAUSES stunted growth.
 

Aussie_coach

Moderator/Coach
Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Proud Parent
Gymnast
Club Owner
Jan 4, 2008
3,615
Country
Australia
It is true that gymnstics can damage the growth plates from the constant pounding and cause them to close up early not allowing a gymnast to reach full height as well as causing other bone problems but this has only been found to be the case in gymnasts who train a very, very high number of hours before puberty. Like the 8-9 year olds who train 30 hours a week.

For most regular gymnasts they wont do anywhere near enough hours to even come close to risking this issue.
 
K

KBT

Guest
A conversation today with a co-worker about gymnastics brought up a topic that I often dismissed as unfounded. But... being open minded, I thought I'd ask the experts and those more 'in-the-know' then I.

Does Gymnastics have any adverse effect in a child athletes growth, or physical maturity? (i.e "stunt" growth, delay puberty, breast development, or menstration cycles?)

I only thought eating too much chocolate, and drinking coffee at a young age could "stunt" my growth. That's what Mom said at least.

My argument is: in this politically correct world, where the "saftey and well-being of children" is always in the spotlight, I can't imagine ANY activity that is excessively (or even potentially ) harmful to children being permitted.


I have a bunch of thoughts on this.
1. Gymnastics tends to weed out the tall people, especially at the higher levels, giving the appearance that gymnastics maybe stunts growth.
2. Growth plate injuries may stunt growth. Although I don't believe this to be a major concern unless you're elite-track, training many hours a day at a young age.
3. I believe gymnastics may delay puberty. Although anyone who works out in any sport several days a week that includes a conditioning program and therefore low body fat would experience this same delay. It's not unique to gymnastics. I don't know if a delay in puberty is a health concern, though.
4. For most kids, getting in the gym and working out is far more beneficial to overall health than the alternative which would be sitting at home watching TV and playing video games.
 

Valentin

Coach
Coach
Nov 12, 2007
376
USA
Hi

Some excellent responses. there is very little if anything that i could add to what has already been said.

The thing to remember is that height is a genetically predetermined. there is nothing you can do naturally to stop or change your genetic phenotype. If you are going to be 6ft you will hit 6ft one way or another. You can definitely delay puberty and thus your growth during those year, but you can't prevent it.
As soon as you stop the high intensity, regular exercises, and the extra energy is available, growth and development will continue.

There are is one benefit to the delay of puberty for girls. That is the delay of menarche, which means they will not have to worry about iron losses through blood loss, changes in sleep patterns, and regularity, etc. this helps with hard trainings. PLUS!!! the added benefits for prolonged osteogenesis.. where girls are able to accumulate more calcium in their bones, a problem usually more of concern to women as they age. The more at a younger age the better, as once puberty is over, things start going downhill only.

The more important questions, and debate is HOW! to cater for the exit of gymnasts who have been doing gymnastics (or any other sport for that matter) for a long time and have reached International or very high level of competition. The sudden stop usually causes some unhappy side effects.. predominantly the weight gain, loss of identity, depression, etc..
This is something all coaches who have high level athletes should have a plan for. Even if the gymnast doesn't want to follow the plan you should have one to provide, and you have at least informed them of what to expect.

Great responses everyone.
 

gymdog

Well-Known Member
Coach
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
5,121
There are is one benefit to the delay of puberty for girls. That is the delay of menarche, which means they will not have to worry about iron losses through blood loss, changes in sleep patterns, and regularity, etc. this helps with hard trainings. PLUS!!! the added benefits for prolonged osteogenesis.. where girls are able to accumulate more calcium in their bones, a problem usually more of concern to women as they age. The more at a younger age the better, as once puberty is over, things start going downhill only.

I was going to say something about this too but I wasn't sure what level of detail was welcome. I've heard that delayed puberty isn't necessarily a bad thing and can be positive depending. Of course it depends on the individual situation. I think it can be associated with a lower cancer risk, similar thing to what they say about breastfeeding being correlated with a lower risk, basically it's having less periods over your lifetime. Historically women have generally had less because they'd be either pregnant or breastfeeding for a greater percentage of their life than we generally are today. The total number of menstrual cycles is considered to represent a cumulative risk for cancers in the female tissues or something like that.

That said I knew girls training the same hours, etc and while most of us got our periods probably a little later than average, there was a wide variation, between about 7th grade and sophomore year in high school, so I don't really think anything is a given for anyone. It's also related to body fat and body types are obviously different in that respect as well, which we see even among athletes training similar hours.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.