Gender and age affect balance performance in primary school-aged children.

Research paper by Karen J KJ Mickle, Bridget J BJ Munro, Julie R JR Steele

Indexed on: 01 Feb '11Published on: 01 Feb '11Published in: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport


Compromised stability may hinder a child's ability to master fundamental movement skills and, in turn, the capacity to participate in sporting activities. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate postural stability of primary school-aged children and to determine how this was moderated by age and gender.Cross-sectional.Static posturography of primary school-aged boys (n=37) and girls (n=47) was assessed while the children were standing feet apart, feet together and in single limb stances for 30s.The boys displayed greater sway than the girls for all conditions, although only the single limb stance scores were significantly different between the two groups (boys: 632±323 mm; girls: 456±338 mm; p=0.04). Eight-year-old children displayed significantly greater sway than the older children during the two dual limb stance conditions, whereas the 8-year-old children performed significantly poorer during the single limb condition than the 10-year-old children.This study shows that when postural stability was challenged, boys displayed greater postural sway than girls and, although proficiency in performing dual limb balance tasks appeared achievable by the time children are 9-years of age; the more difficult single limb balance task required a further 12 months to develop. As balance is important for movement skill development and injury prevention, care should be taken to ensure movement tasks are appropriately designed for boys and girls of different ages.