Myth: Strength training will stunt your growth during childhood and adolescence

Myth: Strength training will stunt your growth during childhood and adolescence

We live in an era of infinite information, however unfortunately it can be tough to distinguish what sources of information are reliable in health & fitness. This can be quite common as particular statements or study findings can be misconstrued or misinterpreted.

This is how myths about health and fitness are formed. When myths are publicised, it can sometimes cause unnecessary concern and fear amongst the public whilst causing much confusion on what is or is not true. Unfortunately, this tends to happen when there is a lack of understanding of exercise science, maturation, bio-mechanics, physiology and nutrition. 

One of those common myths is that strength training will stunt your growth during childhood or adolescence.

Strength training will NOT stunt your growth. BUT injuries can occur if the child or adolescent is misusing equipment, lifting inappropriately amounts of weight, using improper technique, or training without qualified adult supervision.

*Before we begin any further, we are classifying youth for this article between 5-18 years old.

Do not confuse strength training with weightlifting, bodybuilding or power lifting. Trying to build big muscles can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and areas of cartilage that haven't yet turned to bone (growth plates) — especially when proper technique is sacrificed in favour of lifting larger amounts of weight.

When participating in an organised and supervised strength training program, it can prevent any of these injuries occurring. While favourably improving strength, flexibility and mobility of muscles and joints whilst increasing bone mineral density in youth. Participation in a structured strength program will also reduce the risk or severity of many sports-related injuries.

Exercise and physical activity are an important part of youth development. Youth are exposed to many physical activities that include walking, running, jumping, climbing, carrying, and playing their sports. All these movements require strength (producing and absorbing forces).

Done properly, strength training can:

  • Increase muscle strength and endurance
  • Help protect muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
  • Help improve performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and basketball, the list goes on!
  • Develop the fundamental movements that they can continue to utilise as he or she grows older

Keep in mind that strength training is not only for athletes. Even if your kid is not interested in sports, strength training can have positive health-related benefits, such as:

  • Strengthen bones
  • Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Help maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve confidence and self-esteem

If you are looking to introduce strength training with your kids, there’s a few things to you need to do:

1. Consult a fitness professional: ideally who has relevant qualifications and experience with youth strength training.
2. Keep it lightweight and emphasise proper technique: this allows the child to learn body awareness, control, and balance through optimal and safe exercise prescription.
3. Supervise training: It is important to have adult supervision ideally with someone who has experience with strength training and can teach the correct technique.
4. Make it fun: Vary the routine to prevent boredom, from time-to-time.

For more help and support around strength training for youth, feel free to contact us at Inner Athlete.


Nathan 
Palenkas 
Strength Coach
Inner Athlete

 

Reference:
Dahab, K. S., & McCambridge, T. M. (2009). Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes?. Sports health, 1(3), 223–226. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738109334215



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