In the past few years the strength training in children became very popular among scientists working in the health and education system. Nevertheless, it remains a controversial topic. As research and knowledge evolve, some fears about strength training in children begin to diminish. Special attention has to be given in order to clarify all the myths and misconceptions at the general population may have regarding this sensitive issue.
Myth Number 1
- Resistance training is associated with high risk of injury in children’s
- No greater risk than many other sports or recreational activities (0.7% of 1,576 injuries)
In general you can consider the exercise safe for your children if you follow the proper way of the “T.E.S” which stands for Proper Technique, Proper Equipment and Proper Supervision.
Myth Number 2
- Growth plate injuries are common in prepubescent and adolescent weight lifters
- No reported growth plate injuries in over 100 studies of weightlifting in children
Myth Number 3
- Children cannot build muscular strength until after puberty
- 22-74% strength gains in boys and girls after 8 weeks of training
Strength gained in children is the result of neural adaptation and not of the muscle hypertrophy. When we are referring to this kind of adaptation we are talking about changes that occur in motor unit level such as coordination, activation, recruitment and firing rate of motor neuron.
Myth Number 4
- Weightlifting will stunt a child’s growth
- No decrease in stature but improved bone density after strength training
Strength training does not have a minimum age. With the proper technique, the appropriate equipment, and of course with close supervision, you can start with light loads and make a gradual progression with variety of exercises. It is important for children to be involved in this kind of training because it increases not only their general strength but it can also influence (in a positive way) their motor skills, the cardiovascular health, the agility, the speed and, last but not least, can prevent injuries.
As the ancient Greeks used to believe “Παν μέτρον άριστον “(Pan Metron Ariston): “Moderation is best in all things”. It is vital to highlight and never forget that they are Children and they have to laugh and enjoy their regular activities. So, strength training should play a major role in their development process as healthy adults but it cannot replace their daily play and leisure activities.