Strength Training and How We Are Harming Our Youth
‘Participating in strength training will stunt your growth!’
Whoever coined this statement dead-set deserves to be nominated for a Nobel Prize. The only other candidate who comes even close is another individual who coined a similar phrase:
‘You shouldn’t lift weights until you’re 16, or in schooling terms Yr 10!’
Either way both have stood the test of time, and I’ve got some news for you- they’re both utter bull dust!
Before we go any further let me clarify something. The only way it could stunt your child’s growth is by damaging the Epiphyseal Plate don’t worry a quick definition from Wikipedia is all you need… Exactly, a quality source- but trust me you don’t need to look any deeper into it.
The last time I checked with my colleagues, and in my experience spanning close to 20yrs in the game, no one has broken their arm doing a Push Up :)
There is no doubt about it the youth of today are inadequately prepared to participate in sport. If you don’t believe me- here’s a test:
Ask your child to hop forward 3 x on one leg. Each time they land hold it for 3s. Here’s the catch, they’re not allowed to shuffle/adjust their supporting foot, or place the other foot on the ground to prevent themselves from falling over… Go on!
Shock horror! I know right, your child couldn’t do it on their good side, let alone both sides. I can hear it now, the CEO parents are saying their child did it 1st time!... Good for you, from my experience your child would be in the top 95th percentile across the country!!!
Here’s the thing, to optimize your child’s physical development one important component of this is their bone health. For bones to become stronger they need to be compressed/twisted on the daily. This occurs through basic locomotor activities such as running, jumping, etc. But the lack of physical activity or playing time completed by our youth thanks to busy parenting schedules, overprotective parenting, and technological advancements- there’s no wonder our children are flakey and brittle fracturing bones like a brittle piece of chalk…
I know I’m old-school right?!
Here’s the thing, by not allowing, encouraging, supporting your child/youth to participate in strength training you are limiting their ability to achieve their true potential.
Here are 6 benefits of strength training as a parent you may never have thought of:
1. Increase bone mineral density (Fractures)
2. Strengthen connective tissues (i.e. tendons/ligaments)
3. Improve performance (greater ability to support their own body weight in various sport scenarios)
4. Enhanced physical literacy (i.e. running, jumping, hopping through regular fundamental movement skills)
5. Healthier lifelong choices (statistically it’s proven those whom participate in various forms of physical activity in their youth make lasting choices into adulthood)
6. Early Maturation (by encouraging and not overprotecting your child, with correct supervision comes greater responsibility- thus more mature decisions/behaviours).
Have I sold you? I can still hear the haters- ‘well maybe for your child, but not mine’.
Look at it this way, you weren’t singing that tune when you were on the sideline of your eldest child’s sporting fixture telling your friends how your youngest has started to stand and will be walking in no time because she/he is already pulling themselves up on the table and bouncing up and down (yes- that’s squatting!).
… and before that when they learnt to crawl they were pushing themselves up off the ground trying to hold their heads up. In my world that’s called progressive overload!
If you’re still concerned, which I do empathise with may the figure below will provide some re-assurance of reasons as to how most injuries are caused:
Courtesy of Strength & Conditioning Journal33(3):36-41, June 2011.
Bottom line, the youth are today are significantly challenged not only in their physical development, but their likelihood of success in their sport. Support it, nurture it, and come to the bright side J- they’ll thank you for it in the years to come.
If you or anyone you know of has a child already engaging in this type of training, I’d love to hear how you’ve gone about it!