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Anthropometric Characteristics and Delayed Growth in Young Artistic Gymnasts

Theophanis Siatras, Malamati Skaperda, Dimitra Mameletzi
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 24 Number 2: Page 91 (June 2009)

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Abstract: This article addresses the problem of whether high-impact artistic gymnastics training could cause delayed growth in young male and female athletes, as is believed to be the case in professional dancers. The main anthropometric characteristics of young gymnasts were measured, and the differences between gymnasts, swimmers, and nonathletes were examined. Twenty competitive gymnasts, 20 competitive swimmers, and 20 nonathletes, aged 10 to 12 yrs old, volunteered to participate in this study. Testing took place in a training field and the equipment consisted of portable anthropometric instruments. Measurements concerned body mass, stature, segment lengths (arm, forearm, trunk, thigh, and calf), body breadths (biacromical, biiliac, wrist, and ankle), circumferences (arm and thigh), and skinfold thicknesses (arm, thigh, and calf). Triceps and calf skinfold thicknesses were used to estimate the body fat percentage (%BF). The lean body mass percentage (%LBM) and the LBM/BF ratio were also evaluated. Moreover, cross-sectional areas of the arm (CSAarm) and thigh (CSAthigh) were calculated, taking into consideration the limb¿s circumference and four circumferential skinfolds. The results showed that, generally, young male and female gymnasts had smaller body dimensions in some anthropometric characteristics compared to swimmers and nonathletes. This mainly focused on body weight, arm and calf lengths, biiliac/biacromial breadths ratio, skinfold thicknesses, and %BF. However, gymnasts had higher %LBM, LBM/BF ratio, and CSAarm. No significant differences were found in the rest of body dimensions and composition. Although young male and female gymnasts appeared to have some lower anthropometric characteristics compared to the other two groups, it has not clearly demonstrated a delay in their somatic growth and skeletal development.

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