Is Resistance Training Dangerous for children?
“YES”- When it is poorly performed, with bad supervision and incorrect loading progressions
“NO” – When Excellent technique is used, Children are supervised by qualified professionals and loading is correctly applied through proper progression.
What the research says..
“Resistance training is safe for a child under the right conditions”.
Common worries of parents…
Let’s take a look at a lot of the common issues parents have with allowing their children to participate in resistance training and address them now
- Damages growth plates
- Stunts their growth
- They’ll get injured
- They don’t need it
Damages the Growth Plates and Stunts their growth.
Many parents have heard that training with resistance can cause growth plate injuries, while nothing can fully protect against these injuries research has shown that the primary reason for this occurring was due to lifting weights that were too heavy for the individual, improper technique, no qualified supervision and misuse of equipment (3,4,7,10). At the Academy we make sure all these potentials for injury are assessed for and the sessions run with qualified supervision to ensure children aren’t placed in a dangerous situation. Stunting growth is a another common myth in a peer based review of 22 studies of children in resistance training programs it was shown that growth was not effected negatively by the training. (12)
They’ll get injured
All forms of training and sport have potential for injury. Managing the child, ensuring the programs they participate in are designed to avoid injury all help to reduce these risks. In fact, research has shown that a well-designed program which takes in to account the child’s ability and progresses them slowly is the best way to avoid injury (2,6). Research also shows the support for the use of resistance training to actually help prevent injuries to children in sport. (8,9,13,15)
They Don’t need it
This is actually a personal decision by a parent which we respect. If an academy players parent does not want their child to participate in resistance training, we do not go against their wishes. Our gym sessions are voluntary for children 10 and up and we do not force attendance, it is the parent and child’s choice to attend. At Academy football trainings we do utilise a number of injury prevention exercises in warm ups which provide a basic level of training to try and help prevent injuries the best we can. Although this does not take the place of an actual resistance program it at least gives your child a very basic exposure to some exercises that will provide some help.
Benefits of resistance training
Often if there is apprehension about starting this type of training so as head of Physical Preparation I point parents in the direction of the benefits that have been shown in the literature. (1,5,9,11,13,14,15).
- Up to 50% of injuries in youths could have been avoided if a program contained a resistance training component.
- Performance enhancement
- Increased Cardio endurance
- increased upper body and lower body strength
There is also a stigma attached to resistance training for parents that brings visions of lifting heavy weights and lots of angry men screaming and yelling as the sweat it out under a barbell. While that may occur in some places, this isn’t what all training is about. One very important key to understanding resistance training is that it can take many forms and methods. Take for example these six.
- Body Weight
- Medicine balls
For a child these are all options of different types of resistance that can be used, for many kids their first years of training will involve nothing more than body weight, bands and medicine balls. The beauty of the gym sessions is it is monitored and only when a child has earned the right through correct technique and progressions can they try something more challenging with our coaches. This is one of the most important factors as I mentioned previously in the article to avoid injury.
At the Academy
At the Academy we utilise the FMS system to help us to identify potential weaknesses in a child’s movement and subsequently design the program around addressing these weaknesses so they can move better.
Although we currently only screen children 10 years and older. We have informed our coaches of certain bodyweight exercises that can be used as part of a warm up that will be of benefit to all our players including those under 10 years of age. These exercises have come about from the screening we have carried out so far, and are common issues that pop up amongst our older players. We hope that by addressing these issues early on with basic exercises to combat this, when a child does get to 10 years old and we put them through the screen they will achieve better results and be in a better position physically.
To sum up, it is always a personal decision of whether you want your child to participate in a resistance training program, there are many positive aspects to it but also potential for risk if the program and the child isn’t managed well.
We pride ourselves on the way we work with our kids in the gym. Qualified coaches take the time to look at our players individually who are involved, teaching and correcting technique, making sure they earn the right to progress in the correct way, and focus on them improving their abilities.
Jason St Clair Newman
Head Physical Preparation Coach
European Football Academy
- Behringer, M., vom Heede, A., Yue, Z., & Mester, J. (2010). Effects of resistance training in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics, peds-2010.
- Cahill BR. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine: Proceedings of the Conference on Strength Training and the Prepubescent Chicago, IL: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine; 1998
- Caine D, Difiori J, Maffulli N. Physeal injuries in children’s and youth sports: reasons for concern? Br J Sports Med. 2006;40:749-760
- Dominguez R. Shoulder pain in age group swimmers. In: Erikkson B, Furberg B, editors. eds. Swimming Medicine IV. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press; 1978:105-109
- Faigenbaum, A. D., Ferrell, A., Fabiano, M., Radler, T., Naclerio, F., Ratamess, N. A., … & Myer, G. D. (2011). Effects of integrative neuromuscular training on fitness performance in children. Pediatric exercise science, 23(4), 573.
- Faigenbaum AD, Kraemer WJ, Cahill, et al. Youth resistance training: Position statement paper and literature review. J Strength Cond Res. 1996;18:62
- Gumbs L, Segal D, Halligan JB, Lower G. Bilateral distal radius and ulnar Fractures in adolescent weight lifters. Am J Sports Med. 1982;10:375-9
- Hejna WF, Resenberg A, Buturusis DJ, Krieger A. The prevention of sports injuries in high school students through strength training. Natl Strength Coaches Assoc J. 1982;4:28-31
- Hewett TE, Meyer GD, Ford KR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes, part 2: a meta-ananlysis of neuromuscular interventions aimed at injury prevention. Am J Sports Med. 2006;34:490-498
- Jones CS, Christensen C, Young M. Weight training injury trends: a 20 year survey. Phys Sportsmed. 2000;28:61-72
- Lephart SM, Abt JP, Sell TC, Nagai T, Myers JB, Irrgang JJ. Neuromuscular and biomechanical characteristic changes in high school athletes: a plyometric versus basic resistance program. Br J Sports Med. 2005;39:932-938
- Malina, R. M. (2006). Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 16(6), 478-487.
- Myer, G. D., Faigenbaum, A. D., Chu, D. A., Falkel, J., Ford, K. R., Best, T. M., & Hewett, T. E. (2011). Integrative training for children and adolescents: techniques and practices for reducing sports-related injuries and enhancing athletic performance. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 39(1), 74-84.
- Myer, G. D., Ford, K. R., PALUMBO, O. P., & Hewett, T. E. (2005). Neuromuscular training improves performance and lower-extremity biomechanics in female athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 19(1), 51-60.
- Valovich McLeod, T. C., Decoster, L. C., Loud, K. J., Micheli, L. J., Parker, J. T., Sandrey, M. A., & White, C. (2011). National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: prevention of pediatric overuse injuries. Journal of athletic training, 46(2), 206-220.
Share this Post