Have you been told that lifting weights will stunt your growth if you start at too early of an age? In this video, I’m going to dig into the science of workout stress and see what impact it plays on developing bones and ultimately the height of the person lifting the weights. Is there a real cause for concern or is this something that can be almost completely ignored when it comes to your exercise plans.
Many pediatricians and parents have either been told, or told someone themselves, that lifting weights before puberty is a bad thing due to the potential damage it can place on the long bones of the body and the growth plates. When these growth plates are affected negatively, the continued growth of these bones is stunted and height increases halt.
This needs some investigation. Mostly, this needs to be looked at more because of how perpetuated this advice is. That said, we have to see where this even originated. Most of these concerns come from the correlations that are made between many of the highest profile Olympic and Power lifters that are extremely short in stature. The same can be said for muscular gymnasts who are also very small in height.
But before any conclusions can be jumped to you have to ask yourself the age old chicken and the egg question. That is, are these people short because of their participation in lifting weight at an early age that potentially led to damage to their growth plates or are they competing at the highest level of their sport because inadvertently being short was something that contributed to them being the best at what they do.
I will tell you one hundred percent it is the latter. When you are shorter, the mechanical leverages are improved significantly on lifts like the bench press and squat that allow you to be relatively much stronger than someone with longer limbs. Not only that, the distance the bar has to travel in space are minimized greatly compared to someone who is significantly taller. The combination of these two things makes it easier for someone shorter to excel and therefore rise to the level of public prominence that is going to skew the perception of weightlifting causing it’s practicioners to be short.
The truth is the growth plates at the ends of the tibia, femur and humerus are not going to be impacted by the forces present in normal, controlled weightlifting. In no way does the squat, bench press or deadlift for example provide the type of forces and stresses to the bones that leads to growth plate injuries. These are almost always incurred by asymmetrical distorted forces to the bones that comes from falls or accidents on skateboards, snowboarding or even contact sports like football and basketball.
In fact, weightlifting provides benefits to developing adolescents who will get stronger bones and joints from learning the proper way to move a bar at an early age and start adding to that over time. The best thing a young adolescent can do is learn the basic movement patterns and then be ready to take advantage of the hormonal benefits that come when they reach puberty.
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