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In his previous blog post, CSSM Physiotherapist Peter Stath wrote about junior athletes and the potential pitfalls of specialising in one particular sport from a young age. In this blog, Peter follows up on that topic to broach another area of conjecture with junior athletes – the use of resistance training for aspiring young athletes.
The concept of children/adolescents participating in various forms of resistance training is often a topic that causes a lot of debate among parents, health professionals and coaches alike. There is now compelling scientific evidence that supports both child and youth populations participating in a supervised resistance program that allows positive adaptations in health/fitness, sports performance and injury management/prevention.
Some listed benefits of resistance training in the youth population include improvements in muscular strength, power, change-of-direction speed, enhanced bone-mineral density and a reduction in sports-related injury. Not to mention the associated positive psychological effects resistance training can have in both children and adolescents.
Now you may be thinking or have heard from the neighbour that “doing weights will stunt my child’s growth” or “heavy exercise will injure my child’s growth plates.” Both statements are common misconceptions that are not supported by both scientific reports and clinical observations. On the contrary, movements and exercises including gymnastics, and resistance-based exercises may be beneficial for bone formation and growth in the developing body. Furthermore, the 2014 international consensus statement stated that during these developmental years, the failure to participate in moderate-vigorous weight bearing physical activity may have longer-term bone health implications. In summary, the notion of reduced linear growth, or reduced height in adult years is not supported by scientific evidence.
However, an important consideration in implementing a safe resistance-based program for both children and adolescents is the presence of a knowledgeable health professional who is able to design and supervise training programs that are consistent with the needs, goals and abilities of younger populations. It is vital that fundamentals of technical movements are prioritised and taught in order for the young athlete to execute the movement safely, with correct technique.
In summary, appropriately designed and supervised resistance training programs may reduce sports-related injuries, assist in the rehabilitation of sports-related injuries and should be viewed as an essential aspect of training programs for young aspiring athletes. If you would like to best prepare your young athlete for the upcoming season, or are interested in what resistance training can offer in terms of rehabilitation of some persisting/new injuries, then feel free to enquire about our youth rehab program here at CSSM which is lead by our team of physiotherapists.
Out top 5 tips for resistance training in young athletes.
Faigenbaum, A., Kraemer, W., Blimkie, C., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L., Nitka, M. and Rowland, T. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23, pp.S60-S79.
Lloyd, R., Faigenbaum, A., Stone, M., Oliver, J. (2013). Position statement on youth resistance training: The 2014 International Consensus. British journal of sports medicine. 48. 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092952.
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