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February 17, 2014

Is it Safe for Youths to Perform Resistance Training?

First, we must define what resistance training is.  Resistance training refers to a specialized method of conditioning, which involves the progressive use of a wide range of resistive loads as well as a variety of training possibilities designed to enhance health, fitness, and sports performance.  Resistance training is sometimes used synonymously with strength training and weight training, but it encompasses a larger variety of training options and goals.  It used to be thought that resistance training was detrimental to youths but studies have shown that most injuries occurred because of incorrect technique, excessive loading, or a lack of appropriate qualified adult supervision.  Current studies indicate a low risk of injury in children and adolescents who follow age-appropriate guidelines.  According to a position paper published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association on this subject, only 3 published studies have reported resistance training related injuries in children (a shoulder strain that resolved within 1 week of rest, a shoulder strain that resulted in 1 missed training session, and a nonspecific thigh pain that resolved within 5 minutes of rest).  Some believe that youth are susceptible to growth plate injuries if the participate in resistance training.  To date, there is no evidence to suggest that resistance training will negatively impact growth and maturation during childhood and adolescence.

Youth resistance training does carry with it an inherent risk of injury as does participation in any physical activity yet the risk is no greater than any other sport or recreational activity that they regularly participate in.  One prospective study showed that resistance training only accounted for .7% of 1576 injuries whereas football, basketball, and soccer resulted in 19, 15, and 2% respectively of all other injuries in school-aged youths.  To date, no scientific evidence indicates that properly performed and sensibly progressed weightlifting movements performed are riskier than other sports and activities in which youth regularly participate.  Unfortunately though there is an increased risk of injury to children and adolescents who use exercise equipment at home and that young children are more likely than older age groups to be injured according to a study in Physician and Sports Medicine.  It is in part due to unsafe behavior and lack of supervision.

Any exercise activity has its benefits though too.  The risk of injury during resistance training can be minimized by qualified supervision, appropriate program design, sensible progression, and a careful selection of training equipment.  In general, the risk of injury associated with resistance training is similar for youth and adults so there are no justifiable safety reasons that should prevent children or adolescents from participating in a resistance training program.

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.

Stay tuned for our next article about potential benefits in youth health and fitness from resistance training.

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