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Understanding Resistance Training for Youth

1. Growth and Maturation:

One of the most prevalent concerns regarding youth resistance training is its potential to stunt growth. However, a evidence-based review looked at 22 reports involving resistance training programs for pre- and early-pubertal youth. The verdict? Properly supervised resistance training using weights and resistance machines is relatively safe and does not negatively impact growth and maturation in this age group. The study found no substantial changes in height and weight, and minor variations in body composition estimates were observed.


2. Strength and Development:

In fact, youth resistance training can offer numerous benefits. These programs, typically lasting 8 to 12 weeks, have shown significant improvements in muscular strength for children and early adolescents. Strength gains, however, should be maintained through regular training, as detraining can lead to a loss of these gains. This is where proper supervision and structured programs become essential.


3. Injury Risk:

A key aspect of any physical activity, especially for youth, is safety. The review highlighted that when resistance training is carried out with supervision and low instructor/participant ratios, it is relatively safe. Injuries were infrequent, with estimated injury rates being quite low. This emphasizes the importance of proper guidance and the need for structured programs when introducing youth to resistance training.


Conclusion:

As chiropractors, we prioritize our patients' well-being. In the context of youth resistance training, the evidence is clear: it can be safe and beneficial when done correctly. It doesn't hinder growth and maturation, and it fosters strength development, provided that it is supervised and structured appropriately.


So, parents and young athletes, you can put those worries to rest. Resistance training, when carried out with care and guidance, can be a valuable tool for building physical strength and fitness in our youth. If you have concerns or are considering introducing your child to resistance training, consult with a healthcare professional, such as your trusted chiropractor. We can provide personalized guidance to ensure that your child's fitness journey is safe and effective.


Remember, health and wellness are about making informed choices. Let's continue to empower our youth to lead active, healthy lives while dispelling myths that may hinder their progress.


Malina RM. Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review. Clin J Sport Med. 2006 Nov;16(6):478-87. doi: 10.1097/01.jsm.0000248843.31874.be. PMID: 17119361.


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