Girls and Womens Specific Programs
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Girls and Womens Specific Programs
26 October 2018
The timing of appropriate exercise curriculum & stimulus to manage the neuro, physical & hormonal developmental phases between the sexes differs greatly based on the onset of puberty. The average age at onset of puberty for girls is 11.5 years old, while for boys the age is 13.5 years. It is for this reason that Sport Star Performance offers Girls/Women’s only programs for athletes aged 10+ years.
Neurological Growth/Development During infancy, adolescents and early adulthood the brain is relatively plastic a process known as myelination occurs. Myelin is a conductive mix of proteins and phospholipids that combine to create a sheath insulating neurological connections to create processing efficiency and faster functional interaction with the kinetic chain. The synapses that connect neurological processing that are unused are systematically pruned as a result. Ultimately it’s through this process we form movement patterns which defines an individual’s movement signature.
The majority of myelination and synaptic pruning occurs for girls from the age of 10 and upwards, while for boys the majority of this neurodevelopmental phase occurs between 15 to 20 years old. From a neurological standpoint, the urgency in applying the right strategy, format and stimulus to movement pattern development needs to occur at a much earlier stage for young female athletes.
Physical Growth/Development Puberty triggers the onset of Peak Height Velocity (PHV). PHV is the fastest growth rate of a human outside of the initial infantile growth phase. Accelerated physical growth first occurs to the limbs and long bones of the body followed by the spine. For girls accelerated rates of physical growth occur during the early stages of puberty while for boys the growth phase is identified to occur in the latter stages.
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Physiological growth creates stress to the joints and soft tissue structure of the body creating loss of mobility, stability & optimised biomechanics throughout movement. Compensatory patterns emerge jeopardizing motor control and increasing the likelihood of postural asymmetry, biomechanical dysfunction and injury. Therefore it’s important to place heavy focus on mobility practice and maintain effective functional movement patterns for developing female athletes throughout this stage of growth.
Hormonal Growth/Development Research suggests that hormonal changes prove problematic for young female athletes through pubescent years. The increased surge of estrogen levels has links to decreased ligament strength and orthopedic injury. This coupled with physical development of the pelvic girdle widens the hips and increases the Q angle to the knee creating an easier disposition of valgus & raising the chances of serious knee injury such as ACL rupture. Australia officially has the highest cruciate ligament injury rate in the world with a 70% increases to young athletes under the age of 14. Females are up to 8 times more likely to sustain this acute injury over their male counterparts.
Strength and conditioning programming containing exercises to address strength deficiencies, landing, cutting and change of direction mechanics are priorities for girls and their development throughout these years to establish a strong foundation for completing these movements competently and remaining injury free.