Date of Submission



Musculoskeletal development in the upper limbs of non-elite female gymnasts during pre and early pubescent growth is under researched. Most studies have focussed on elite rather than non-elite gymnasts, via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The purpose of this thesis was to longitudinally characterise the effects of non-elite female artistic gymnastics participation on upper limb musculoskeletal parameters using peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (pQCT), DXA and muscle function assessments. Three major studies were designed. Study one compared the upper limb of two groups of gymnasts (high-training gymnasts (HGYM), participating in 6-16 hr/wk, low-training gymnasts (LGYM), participating in 1-5 hr/wk) and an age matched control group (NONGYM) for differences in bone mass, size and strength. Difference in upper limb muscle size, structure and function were also compared. Study two pooled both HGYM and LGYM to compare traditional pQCT skeletal parameters at the radius (4% and 66% sites) with NONGYM. To advance the understanding of site and bone specificity in young gymnastics, similar measures were also undertaken at the ulna. Study three combined variables in studies one and two in a longitudinal (6-month) comparison of the upper limb musculoskeletal changes in two groups of gymnasts (HGYM, LGYM) and a NONGYM group. Benefits beyond growth associated with gymnastics participation during pre- and early pubertal years were examined.


School of Exercise Science

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


287 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences