Is young age a limiting factor when training balance? Effects of child-oriented balance training in children and adolescents

Wälchli, Michael ; Ruffieux, Jan ; Mouthon, Audrey ; Keller, Martin ; Taube, Wolfgang

In: Pediatric Exercise Science, 2017, p. 1–26

Purpose: Balance training studies in children reported conflicting results without evidence for improvements in children under the age of eight. The aim of this study therefore was to compare balance training adaptations in children of different age groups to clarify whether young age prevents positive training outcomes.Method: The effects of five weeks of child-oriented balance training were... More

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    Summary
    Purpose: Balance training studies in children reported conflicting results without evidence for improvements in children under the age of eight. The aim of this study therefore was to compare balance training adaptations in children of different age groups to clarify whether young age prevents positive training outcomes.Method: The effects of five weeks of child-oriented balance training were tested in 77 (38 girls; 39 boys) participants of different age groups (6-7, 11-12, and 14-15 years) and compared to age-matched controls. Static and dynamic postural control, explosive strength, and jump height were assessed.Results: Across age groups, dynamic postural sway decreased (-18.7%; p = .012; η2p = .09) and explosive force increased (8.6%; p = .040; η2p = .06) in the intervention groups. Age-specific improvements were observed in dynamic postural sway, with greatest effects in the youngest group (-28.8%; p = .026; r = .61).Conclusion: In contrast to previous research using adult-oriented balance exercises, this study demonstrated for the first time that postural control can be trained from as early as the age of six years in children when using child-oriented balance training. Therefore, the conception of the training seems to be essential in improving balance skills in young children.