Is weight lifting at a young age bad for you?
This is the eleventh question that I’m answering this month of the 24 most commonly asked questions Mark and I receive.
The Short Answer
No. The common concern here is that weight lifting stunts the growth of an adolescent.
The theory that kids will stop growing if they lift weights at a young age is not supported by any research. However, research has shown that lifting weights at a young age will:
- increase strength and bone strength index (BSI).
- decrease fracture risk and rates of sports-related injury.
- grow self-esteem and interest in fitness.
The Longer Answer
Below is taken from our friends over at Healthline:
Most likely, the myth that lifting weights stunts growth came from concern over kids causing damage to their growth plates if they participate in a strength training program.
Dr. Rob Raponi, a naturopathic doctor and certified sports nutritionist, says the misconception that lifting weights stunts growth likely stems from the fact that injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth.
However, he points out that this is something that can result from poor form, weights that are too heavy, and a lack of supervision. But it’s not the result of lifting weights correctly.
What this myth doesn’t mention is that participation in almost any type of sport or recreational activity carries a risk of injury. In fact, about 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures involve the growth plates.
Your growth plates are the cartilaginous areas of growing tissue at the ends of long bones (like the thigh bone, for example). These plates turn into hardened bone when young people reach physical maturity but are softer during development and are therefore more susceptible to damage.
But just because the growth plates are susceptible to damage doesn’t mean an adolescent or teenager should avoid lifting weights.
The shared thought among medical professionals is that weightlifting in kids under 18 is safe when properly applied, says Chris Wolf, DO, sports medicine and regenerative orthopedic specialist at the Bluetail Medical Group.
Weight lifting at young age is no different than learning how to play basketball. Risk of injury is inherent when participating in any sport — but the benefits far outweigh the risk of injury.
But what about the argument that it will stunt a child’s growth?
This is just simply not true.