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Let's Chat, Myths:

AGE, Kids & Exercise

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Welcome back to Let's Chat, Myths. This is the second part in a two-parter about age. First, we explored the "oldies" and now it's the turn of the youngsters. We tend to focus on resistance training/lifting as this is where a lot of the myths stem from "You'll stunt your growth!" To really summarise there is no evidence to suggest detrimentally physically effecting your child in regards to exercise IF it's done under supervision/safely. Side note. What are your thoughts on animal jeans? You can guess who brought this topic up!


Growth plates are where we begin as that's where the stunting growth thing comes about. Damage your plates you won't grow? However, as we establish lifting weight does not inherently damage growth plates and that any type of injury can cause this. We know that "younger" growth plates are more susceptible to damage however when we explore resistance training we actually have data that shows this type of training actually REDUCES the risk of fracture so the complete opposite of what these myth sayers state.


Testosterone. Why bother when children can't make power/strength gains without a higher level of testosterone? Well, this is just bizarre. It's not essential as we see in the elderly/women who make impressive gains without much of it at all. We take a look at some papers from Faigbaum who offers some really compelling evidence in support of youth training.


Injuries. We're sure a lot of parents can relate in that they want their child to be safe/not injured! We look at numerous data here and the majority of injuries in youths comes down to overtraining and the majority of those was from running! So when we see people slating parents for letting their children lift weights but then say nothing when they are playing football 4/5 times a week it's certainly pointing towards more education is needed (remove that stigma!). We do establish however that overuse injury is independent of age and old or young if you overtrain you're more likely to suffer an injury. Tom brings back some per 100 hours of injury rates as well.

We also look at mental injury (just as important) and things such as stress/burnout which is more sport-specific but offers some very interesting conversation. This links to sports specialisation from an early age which we know to be beneficial for long term success. "Want a champion? Start them young" however we have a large body of evidence to suggest that early sports specialisation actually leads to increased risk of injury. We discuss why we think that is.


Bone health. We have discussed osteoporosis in the past and how important is it to prevent this. The more bone mass we can get throughout our childhood/teens and beyond the bigger chance, we have of preventing osteoporosis. We actually have data to suggest that we can increase bone accrual by 0.6-1.7% per year within our childhood when participating in consistent exercise. This can have huge long term benefits. 


Social Impacts. This one offered some great discussion as we look at the positives exercise/sport can have on a child social life and also offers a gateway to a continued long term healthier lifestyle. We do look at some negatives though such as unfortunate socioeconomic barriers and how at the elite level (looking at china) there can be cases where there is a lot of stress placed on a child to perform and excel. There's a lot to this section and It's hard to get into written form so I implore you to at least listen to the final segment of the episode.

Studies Mentioned

Exercise and Bone Mineral Accrual in Children and Adolescents

Position statement on youth resistance training: the 2014 International Consensus

Growth Plate Fractures

Resistance training for children and adolescents

Strength Training in Children and Adolescents

Overuse injuries and burnout in youth sports

Sports Specialization in Young Athletes

Quantifying Parental Influence on Youth Athlete Specialization

Effect of Sport Specialization on Lower Extremity Injury Rates in High School Athletes

Sport Specialization and Risk of Overuse Injuries

The Effects of Playing Multiple High School Sports on National Basketball Association Players' Propensity for Injury and Athletic Performance

Hamill paper, injury rates for youth weight lifters and other sports

Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK

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