STRENGTH TRAINING FOR YOUNG ONES

Starting your kid out in a CrossFit program or other Strength and Conditioning programs yet don’t want them to life any weights whatsoever? Well, the notion that kids get injured while doing supervised strength training has always been a worry for many parents but, perhaps this worry is unwarranted.

Strength training as well as time in the gym may in fact reverse certain issues and prevent injuries that could potentially be sustained in the future. There has been quite a bit of talk on the correlation between a child’s health and weightlifting, some have mentioned that it would stunt growth and what not. Well, we’re here to dispel those myths and to call folly on them!

  • Weightlifting has a direct impact on a child’s bone density

Numerous studies have shown a direct link between weightlifting and increase in bone density. Bones are the framework for a child’s growing body. Our bones are a living tissue that constantly changes. Consider your skeletal structure as sort of a bank account, where (with your help) your kids make “deposits” and “withdrawals” of bone tissue[1]. During childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited than withdrawn as the skeleton grows in both size and density. For our kids, bones react the same way to muscles; they grow the more we use them. This comes specifically via high impact movements such as weightlifting.

  • Weightlifting does NOT stunt growth

Yes, you are reading this right, weightlifting does not stunt growth. However, improper use and abuse of weights can lead to injuries and stunt growth not just in kids but also for adults. Dwelling more into the science of it, our bones each have a growth plate located at the 2 ends of every single bone in our body. It is at these ends whereby our bones grow, especially for teens. It is true that trauma to these growth plates would hinder the growth of these bones and result in abnormal growth. However, the probability of such injuries occurring have not been proven to be as common as thought. In papers published by the American Academy of Paediatrics[2], they state that unless real data is presented to show that such injuries are common and easily sustainable, the benefits of weight lifting outweighs the small risk of such growth plate injuries. Additionally, more studies have shown that such growth plate injuries are less likely to occur during weight training compared to being engaged in other sports.

  • Weightlifting is just another ‘word’

We are afraid of this word, all because we associate it with big chunky men grunting in the gym. However, ‘weightlifting’ occurs much closer to home than we can imagine. Your child picks up his bag which easily weighs 6 to 7 kg and is carrying that on his back or on his hands for hours over while on the way home via public transport. Your child, at times, may be asked to carry heavy pails of water to assist with the chores at home. Such occasions are apparent that your kid is actively engaged in weightlifting. However, it is up to us to inculcate good habits while moving such weight around. Why wait for an injury to occur when we can easily prevent one from happening by teaching them the proper mechanics of moving them?

  • A child will improve in sport through weightlifting

As your child starts out in a weightlifting program, he or she will experience growth in various realms of their physical development such as strength, power, speed, flexibility as seen in studies by the American College of Sports Medicine (2005)[3]. With an increase in these aspects of physical development, it is certain that their performance, on the field or on the court will exceed that if they were not engaged in it. Not only that, a youth engaged in a well-planned strength and conditioning program will begin to experience improvements in their motor performance skills and at the same time, reduce injuries in sports and recreational activities.

  • Weightlifting produces confidence

Apart from inculcating good habits, discipline and prevent degenerative diseases to the bone structure, weightlifting also provides a much needed confidence boost to teens. With strength training, teens are now able to do things which they were previously unable to do. Every time a teen walks through our doors and sets a new Personal Best, it improves their self-esteem and encourages success in their daily lives. As such, these physical achievements stems not from a competitive stand but rather from a personal drive to get better. Not just for the athlete but also for the overweight child that is sedentary and wishes only to play with his iPad. With strength training, there will likely be a positive impact on his psyche and personal outlook.

HOWEVER!

Strength training can still be dangerous if done unsupervised. As mentioned before, growth plate injuries, though uncommon in the gym, can still occur. At Innervate CrossFit, no child would pick up any weight unless told to do so and will be severely reprimanded if that happens. At Innervate CrossFit Kids, we are not in a hurry to pile on the pounds on the barbell or kettlebell. We focus very much on the mechanics of their movement first. If they show that they can pick up a 500 gram plastic pipe safely off the ground and they show consistency, day in and day out in this movement, then and only then, do we start adding weight to their movements at conservative increments.


[1] http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/bone_health/juvenile/default.asp#9

[2] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/121/4/835.full

[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758

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