We have recently covered the specifics on how bones grow and develop. We have also seen that participating in a proper weight training program is not only safe, but needed to keep your child free from injury. What you may not know is that weight training can also help to prevent injury in youth athletes by increasing bone density.
The common myth that resistance training stunts growth has never been proven, and the opposite may in fact be true. Resistance training at a young age actually can help increase bone growth. During growth the bones are growing and going through a process known as mineralization -which is what makes the bone harder and more dense. Children without proper mineralization will be more prone to skeletal injury.
The good news is that resistance training at a young age increases bone mineralization and the rate at which minerals are deposited into bones. Because youth athletes are in the growing process, their body responds rapidly to any stress put on it. Loading the skeleton with weights in a safe environment promotes bone hardening.
Bone mineral content peaks in girls around 11.5 to 13.5 years old and in boys ages 13 to 15. Resistance training here can help increase the deposition of those minerals. This will help keep your son or daughter safe when they experience high loads from jumping, sprinting, or cutting on the field, or especially when there is physical contact associated with the sport
Not only does lifting keep your child safe now, but it provides them an opportunity for better quality of life down the road. As we age our bones reverse the process of hardening and we actually lose bone density.
Resistance training at a young age is a proactive response to decreased bone density. Resistance training at a young age allows a higher bone mineral density to be carried into adulthood and lessens the need for constant training to combat bone loss.
For girls, this is especially important. Osteoporosis is major concern for adult women. 50% of women develop osteoporosis during their lifetime, while only 25% of men do. Osteoporosis is now referred to as a pediatric disease.
While it usually doesn’t occur until later, its occurrence is being associated with the lack of mineralization during childhood development. Resistance training from 11 years old can help combat osteoporosis 40 years down the road.
If you want your child to be safe on the field and in their future it is a good idea to be proactive and introduce them to weight training at an early age.