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January 15, 2014

Are Plyometrics Safe for Kids?

Merriam-Webster defines plyometrics as exercises involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power.  Unlike traditional strength building exercises, plyometric training works the body through dynamic rapid movements.  When the stretching and contracting are performed quickly, the force generated is higher than if the muscle wasn’t stretched immediately prior to the contraction.  An example is hopping on 1 foot.  Your calf is stretched quickly on the way down followed immediately by pushing through the ball of your foot lifting your body off of the floor.  The notion that plyometric training is unsafe for youths is not supported by current research and clinical observations.  Conversely, comprehensive resistance training programs that include plyometric exercises have been found to enhance movement mechanics, improve functional abilities, and decrease the number of sports related injuries in young athletes.  Studies have demonstrated that plyometric training can be a safe and valuable method of conditioning for young people if it is prescribed and implemented appropriately.  Youth can be seen every day demonstrating plyometrics, such as jumping, skipping, or hopping, while playing on the playground or even hopscotch.  Although it is a game, it actually conditions the body to increase speed and power.  However, there is the potential for injury to occur if the volume, intensity, and frequency exceed the abilities of the participants.  This is why Evolution at Sports and Physical Therapy Center has combined the best of both worlds.  It incorporates the knowledge of physical therapists, who are musculoskeletal experts specializing in proper mechanics, injury prevention and rehab, as well as certified personal trainers who are also trained in exercise prescription and nutrition.  They are the ones who design and oversee the programs and its implementation to enhance your strengths and handle your weaknesses.  Call today for a free physical therapist designed GAME assessment to analyze your movements and get you on your way to achieving your goals.

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