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My 5 year old daughter has been in gymnastics since she was a little more than 18 months old.  She has progressed in the most phenomenal way over the years (she has been a member of the prep-team since she was 3).  She loves it and does it all around the house.  Recently, there have been some changes to her schedule at the gym.  She now trains for 8 hours a week, up from 3 hours a week.  She has some teammates that have missed time due to back and other injuries.  She has complained before of her back and hands hurting, and being sore.  Again, she is 5 years old, with teammates ranging from 5-7 years old.

 

I have been hearing some statements that gymnastics at such a young age and at such a high volume can actually stunt growth.  Some of the other parents have shown concern for the amount of training the girls are doing. 

 

Can anyone shed any light on this?  Should I be concerned?

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I don't know anything about children doing gymnastics and the wear it has on their bodies. However, she is telling you that she is sore, and that would be a warning sign to me. 8 hours a weeks seems like too much for a 5 yr old. Is she happy with this amount? I would worry that she doesn't have enough time to play and well be a little kid. Gymnastics may be somewhat play for her, but 8 hours a week isn't giving her much time to do other kid stuff that is important too-like chase dragons, dig for China, have teaparties with your dolls, and find buried treasure!

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Some of the ortho surgeons I work with claim growth plate injuries from the high-impact of gymnastics.  I've heard from them over and over that gymnastics has a higher rate of injury than any other sport, and this is a state where you're a freak if you're not playing hockey by age 2.  My kiddo's "gymnastics" teacher when he was in preschool/early elementary wouldn't actually teach gymnastics/tumbling moves until kids were 8 or 9 due to the risk of injury in doing non-natural movements.  Makes sense, I suppose-- if you watch how kids naturally play it's more like parkour than traditional gymnastics.  

 

Complaining of pain would concern me, and the fact that 5-7 year olds are already hitting the injured list is alarming.  

 

 

I think the issue of time invested is entirely an individual family decision; but there is quite a bit of literature on the trend of putting adult-oriented goals onto small children in team sports.  Gymnastics and dance seem to be two sports where this happens quite frequently as they get competitive so young, so it can be a challenge as a parent finding the balance that your whole family is comfortable with. 

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