Growth and maturation during childhood: Craig A. Williams, Louise Wood and Mark De Ste Croix
Understanding movement patterns and motor control during childhood is challenging, and the complex interaction of growth and maturation contributes towards this challenge. The monitoring of children’s growth and maturation is not a simple task, and in part both ethical and methodological constraints have hindered our understanding of the growing child. Although growth and maturation are related concepts, it is important to acknowledge that although they are related, they are harmonized by differing time-scales and are probably controlled under separate biological regulation (Armstrong and Welsman 1997). The term ‘development’ has also been used in relation to growth and maturation but this term really refers to broader concepts that include behavioural and psychological as well as biological domains. Children are often placed into chronological age groups but it is well recognized that chronological age is a poor marker of biological maturity. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the key mechanisms of growth in preparation for later chapters where its impact upon motor development and motor control are discussed. Therefore, this chapter will primarily examine age-and sex-associated changes in stature, body mass, limb length and muscle size. Clinical, injury and performance applications will also be discussed.