Does Weight Lifting Stunt Growth in Children?

One of the biggest myths about weight lifting for children is that it stunts growth. This myth has been around for decades and many parents are unwilling to send their adolescent or pre-adolescent children to lift weights. However, there is no evidence to support this notion.

How was this myth debunked?

Research shows the only way to affect growth is by damaging growth plates.

What are growth plates?

Growth plates exist in growing children and adolescents, they are located at the end of most long bones (eg. femur, ulnar, radius, tibia, fibula). The plates are made of cartilage and once we have finished growing they harden and form bone. This occurs at approximately 15 years of age for females and 17 years for males.

Growth plates can only be damaged from either breaking them or the area being exposed to inflammatory diseases.

How can your child avoid damage?

By performing weight lifting exercises in a supervised setting and seeking advice from professionals.

The injuries sustained during weight lifting happen when an incorrect technique is taught to the person or they haven’t been adequately shown how to use the equipment to perform the exercise. The simplest way to reduce injury is to have the adolescent perform the exercises in a supervised setting. This can be through the parents who have lifting experience themselves, group classes with a qualified trainer and/or during a one on one session with a health professional.

What are the benefits of weight lifting?

  • Maintaining muscle tissue
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Improved bone health
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Promotion of a healthy lifestyle
  • Improved body awareness, control, and function

We hope this has shed some light on the myth of weight lifting stunting growth.

If your child or teen is interested in weight lifting and you want further advice on safe exercises, or assistance in developing technique and creating programs, Book Now with one of our experienced physiotherapists.

Read more….

To learn more about Severs disease in children, read our blog HERE
To learn more about Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease in children , read our blog HERE
To learn more about why it’s important to stretch, read our blog HERE

Malina R. M. (2006). Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review. Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 16(6), 478–487. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.jsm.0000248843.31874.be

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