We are often asked about youth athletes and their readiness to start strength training. “Aren’t there risks to their growth plates?” and “Won’t it stunt their growth?” are common concerns. It is the purpose of this article to face these questions head on by going to the research, and answering the question – Is youth weightlifting safe?
Growth Plate Damage Causing Stunted Growth?
The growth plate is a critical part of a child’s development. A properly growing growth plate ensures that the child will grow taller! So what does the evidence say about strength training and growth plate damage causing stunted growth? The American College of Sports Medicine condoles in a review that “…there is no evidence to suggest that resistance training has negative impact on a youth’s growth potential.” Further studies by Dr. Avery Faigenbaum have even shown that there are possible positive effects to the growth plates from a strength training program.
Strength training injuries are typically found in youth athletes to be strains and sprains, which occasionally a fracture. While these are unfortunate, the statistics are clear: the rate of injury with sports such as soccer, basketball, and football are much higher than the rate of injuries with strength training or weightlifting. We believe that the actual benefits of strength training for youth athletes far outweigh the risks.
So What Are The Benefits?
- Injury Prevention!
- A 2019 review concluded that strength training programs that were properly executed and supervised actually decreased injuries for youth athletes. Not only were these programs safe for athletes, but they experienced fewer injuries after the strength and conditioning programs were completed.
- Performance Improvements!
- A 2016 review concluded that significant performance increases can be achieved through strength and conditioning for youth athletes. Increased muscle strength, vertical jump performance, agility, and sport specific performance in team sport athletes, endurance athletes, and individual athletes were all seen in youth athletes aged from 6-18. The strength and conditioning programs varied greatly according to the ages, sex, and development of the athletes, each tailored to the development capacity of the youth athlete.
With the right coaching, a strength and conditioning program including youth weightlifting is safe, effective at decreasing injuries, and effective at increasing performance. The fears of stunted growth plates should no longer exist.
If you know a youth that could benefit from strength and conditioning coaching, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment today!