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J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2013 Dec;13(4):395-404.

Gymnastics participation is associated with skeletal benefits in the distal forearm: a 6-month study using peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography.

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Centre of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan, Australian Catholic University, Locked Bag 2002, Strathfield, NSW, Australia, 2135.



Musculoskeletal development of the upper limbs during exposure to weight-bearing loading is under-researched during early pubescent growth. The purpose was to assess the changes in upper body musculoskeletal strength in young girls following 6 months of non-elite gymnastics participation.


Eighty-four girls, 6-12 years were divided into groups based on gymnastics participation: high-training (HGYM, 6-16 hr/wk), low-training (LGYM, 1-5 hr/wk), and non-gymnasts (NONGYM). Volumetric BMD, bone geometry, estimated bone strength and muscle size were assessed at the non-dominant forearm (4% and 66% radius and ulna) with pQCT. DXA assessed aBMD and body composition. Tests for explosive power, muscle strength, and endurance were also performed.


Interaction effects were observed in all variables at the 4% radius. At the 66% ulna, HGYM and LGYM had greater bone mass, size and bone strength than NONGYM, furthermore a dose-response relationship was observed at this location. Body composition was better for HGYM than LGYM and NONGYM, however muscle function was better for HGYM and LGYM than NONGYM.


The greatest changes were obtained with more than one gymnastics class per week. Separating gymnastics participation-related changes from those associated with normal growth and development remains difficult, particularly at the 4% radius.

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