There is often discussion amongst parents of gymnasts considering whether gymnastics stunts your child’s growth.
Those who believe this to be the case often cite the intensive training young gymnasts undertake as being demanding on their bodies and limiting their growth, especially through puberty.
Websites such as Justifying fun gymnastics and an ever growing number of gymnastics youtube channels, encourage children to take part in gymnastics activities and buy gymnastics equipment for their homes.
With the coronavirus pandemic also taking place and children spending more time at home doing gymnastics based exercises and tumbling around the house, are these activities safe in the long term?
Gymnastics is physically intense
Gymnastics requires balance, physical strength, flexibility and power. The range of activities children take part in at gymnastics class include disciplines such as the gymnastics bars, which require a massive amount of control and strength of the upper body and core.
Young gymnasts also need to learn floor skills and the vault, which both require strong legs and include fast and physically demanding movements.
Why are gymnasts so short?
According to research conducted on the Role of Intensive Training in the Growth and Maturation of Artistic Gymnasts, teenagers who pursue gymnastics to a high level are highly select individuals and on average they are a little shorter.
This may be because shorter individuals might have wider shoulders or different shaped hips but In my opinion I don’t believe body type plays a significant role in gymnastics overall.
However, gymnasts who can perform an elite level gymnastics bar routine may have different characteristics to gymnasts who have the leg strength to master intense floor routines.
Long term effects of gymnastics on your body
A study conducted and published by SportsMed had some interesting findings. They concluded that the adult height of a person who has trained intensively in artistic gymnastics is not affected even if training took place as a young child and during puberty.
There was no evidence that training as a gymnast causes the reduction in the length of your upper body or legs or that the timing and rate of growth spurts is affected.
It seems that the idea of gymnastics stunting your growth is hearsay or at least doesn’t have any noticeable negative consequences.
I believe taking part in gymnastics intensively is more likely to have a positive effect on your physical conditioning.