Have you ever been intrigued by the way gymnasts are able to move and all the things they can do?
Well, I have, and I’ve always wondered how did they manage to get to such performances in such a short time. Were their bones made any different than ours? Were they having some special skills and talents that could allow them to bend and twist their bodies in such ways that you couldn’t even think were possible?! Well, I did a little research and found out why and how the gymnasts can be so flexible, and if you are as curious as I am about it, stay tuned and read the following lines! I promise they are worth it!
So, we know that gymnasts can do a lot of things such as splits, flips and double twists, handsprings and a lot of other exercises that we, regular people, couldn’t picture us doing them not in a million of years. They seem to have an extraordinary flexibility of their bodies and a strength that could make even a box player jealous.
And it is these particular abilities that allow them to perform one of the greatest and most popular sports ever, the ones that we, the regular people, often watch during the Summer Olympics. And either if we watch it or just hear about it, it’s inevitable to not wonder: how can they be so damn incredibly flexible? The believable answer in their case has to come from an expert in movement and exercising, or at least from a doctor that knows more about the way the human body can move and bent all the time. So, we found out the answers from an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine from the Ohio State University and Wexner Medical Center.
The first thing we have to get started when it comes to finding out how the gymnasts are able to be so flexible in time, is their age. Age allows them (or rather said their bodies) to be flexible. A long time ago, it was believed that gymnasts in their 20s and 30s are the most flexible, but everything changed after the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci entered the scene, at the age of 14 years old. At this age, she won 3 golden medals at the Montreal Summer Olympics in the year 1976. Besides these 3 golden medals, Nadia Comaneci won also a silver medal and a bronze one. Thus, a greater number of younger gymnasts started to appear on the stage and enter the subsequent game, which lead the International Federation of Gymnastics to increase the age requirements of the gymnasts, especially because there were serious health concerns for the girls.
In the current days, the female gymnasts must have at least 16 years old in the calendar of the year in which the Olympics are held, in order to them to be able to compete in the games. So, unlike the old days and the past times, there are more gymnasts that are still quite young for this tough world of gaming and winning. The usual age is somewhere between 16 and 22.
The settled age range is not random, nor is it a coincidence, because if the young females are much younger, it means that they are more flexible, compared to the older women, and this is due to a number of reasons, specialists agree. For example, doctor Miller claims that in most of the cases, the females main years of reproduction are between the ages 14 and 30 years old, in which time, they are more of the relaxin hormone. The relaxin hormone is responsible for giving soft tissues, such are the tendons and the ligaments, which provide us with more flexibility than normal. When a woman is pregnant, the relaxin hormone is able to help her relax the soft tissues and to accommodate with the growing of the baby inside her, doctor Miller explains. This relaxin hormone also helps young gymnasts female to become more flexible and agile. Doctor Miller claims that relaxin hormone permits the gymnasts’ bodies to become more limber.
Why is that? Because female gymnasts have smaller bodies and more agile bodies, because they have to exercise at intense levels, and this fact tends to delay their puberty time. Puberty has a tendency of delaying in the young athletes mostly because their bodies need to consume a certain amount of fat in order to go through the puberty. The young athletes do not have this amount of fat because they burn calories too often and intense, through their exercise routine. What’s more, there are some young gymnasts that start to develop some eating disorders, for example, which are also responsible for the stunt growth. In general, the puberty period in girls tends to ensure a certain growth spurt and some weight gain, and these both things are delayed in what regards the young gymnasts.
Regarding the joints issue, in general, people’s joints have a tendency of stiffening with age, and it is due to overuse or due to a gradual progression of the arthritis disease, which is a condition that causes joints to become inflamed. However, in the gymnast’ cases, the younger they are, the more they tend to develop fewer injuries, and this includes also the fractures, the stiffness or the bone spurs, at least compared to the older gymnasts. The reason for why the younger athletes tend to have fewer injuries is due to the fact that they haven’t been around too long or long enough in order to accumulate them.
The female gymnasts are also flexible thanks to their rigorous training sessions or regimens, because these include a lot of exercises, including cardio, core conditioning, stretching and drills. Because of these facts, young gymnasts have a more organized collagen production, which is a protein that it is found in the connective tissue. As people age and do less exercises, the collagen becomes disorganized and thus makes people less flexible, unlike gymnasts.
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