Restricted growth conditions (sometimes known as Dwarfism) are characterised by short stature. This may be either proportionate, or disproportionate in which a person’s arms or legs are particularly short, such as in Achondroplasia.
Physical Activity with Restricted Growth
Physical exercise is hugely beneficial to people with Restricted Growth conditions. Most sports are accessible but those with accompanying physical conditions may find some activities gentler on the body.
It’s common that people with restricted growth conditions can have very flexible and rather unstable joints yet regular exercise can help to strengthen weak areas, whilst it is generally accepted that gentle exercise is beneficial for those with a spinal scoliosis.
Cycling for Restricted Growth
It is often very difficult for a person with restricted growth – particularly children – to ride a bicycle. This has nothing to do with their ability to learn to ride, but entirely down to the geometry of the machine.
Bikes for people with restricted growth pose a challenge for the bike designer when attempting to produce a two wheeled bike with an appropriate leg length, (the distance between the cranks and the saddle) but where the saddle is also low enough to allow the rider to put their feet to the ground when coming to a halt. It could be achieved with small wheels in proportion to the height of the rider, but this would be an inelegant solution for most people.
Attempts that have been made with mainstream sized wheels have mostly come to grief because in lowering the rider’s feet and body enough to be able to get on and off as well as cycle the bike, the saddle needs to be below the top of the wheels. To resolve this issue, designers lengthen the frame and sit the rider low down between the extended wheelbase and therein lies the problem! It is almost impossible to balance and safely ride such an extended machine. As usual, the condition gets the blame, but it’s actually poor geometry that’s at fault.
With a tricycle, these balance problems do not matter as there is room for the rider to sit between the rear wheels. Furthermore, the trike won’t tip when getting on or off or when cycling normally, and so a conventional trike with the right crank to saddle length is all that is required. Usually children or adults with restricted growth get on very well with Tomcat trikes, which separate for transport, can be converted to a Trailer Trike or have electric power.
It is uncommon for a person with restricted growth to need additional support or special provision, but if there are concerns over complications such as scoliosis, Tomcat’s full portfolio of accessories – and customisation if necessary – are all readily available.