This still happens a lot, so I figure it is worth sharing.
I was talking with the parent of a 15 year old high school athlete last week and they said…
“I know lifting weights will stunt his growth, so I make sure he stays away from that”
There is a myth out there that lifting weights can stunt a young athletes growth.
Lifting weights can no more stunt your growth than playing hockey, soccer or basketball.
Let me explain…
The only way weight lifting can stunt a young athlete’s growth is by causing a fracture through the growth plate of the bone. Once we stop growing these growth plates close and it is not an issue.
You can fracture through your growth plate any number of ways. Any time there is a fracture, if that fracture happens to pass through the growth plate (which is located toward the ends of the long bones), the doctor may need to put a pin in if the fracture is displaced, this will ‘fix’ the problem, although it may require surgery which is never cool.
So basically, you could do this playing hockey, getting tackled in football, skateboarding or even lifting weights.
The actual incidence of bone fracture associated with weight training is very low (as you can imagine). I remember reading an article that looked at documented cases of growth plate fracture from weight training and the numbers were really low (like I think single digits) and in most of the cases the injury occurred with excessively heavy overhead lifting by unsupervised kids.
So, weight training for teenagers is just as safe, if not safer than any other activity (I have never seen a barbell check from behind), but they need to use appropriate loads, which is the case if they train to technical failure. In other words they stop the set when they can no longer perform each rep with perfect technique.
Also remember that supervision is essential when an athlete is starting to use weights for training. This ensures they are using proper form and training in a safe environment.
Having said all that, I still don’t start athletes in my programs until they are 14 years of age or the summer before they go into High School if they are 13 going on 14. The reason is that I want them out developing athleticism and playing lots of different sports, it has nothing to do with stunting their growth 🙂
Hope that helps dispel the myth.
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