Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is Weight Training Dangerous for Youth Athletes?

I have been asked this question hundreds of times during my 25 years in the sports medicine and sports performance fields.

Think about this:
1. When you run, the force of each foot strike is equal to about 2 - 3 times your bodyweight.
2. When you jump, the force of each landing is about 5 - 6 times your bodyweight.
3. Here is an interesting passage from Dr. Timothy Gay's book, The Physics of Football:
"With just how much force did Dick Butkus hit running backs?" "1,150 pounds of force, or the three-fifths of a ton"
4. Pitching creates rotational velocities of up to 7200 degrees per second about the shoulder - that's almost twenty windmill motions in one second! This creates tremendous forces about the shoulder joint.
5. Bone maturation is not uniform throughout the body. Different areas fully fuse at different ages: proximal humeral growth plate (top of the arm at the shoulder) - about age 19, distal humeral growth plate (arm bone at elbow) - about age 15, clavicle (collar bone) - about age 23.

Therefore, your child will NEVER replicate these kind of forces while strength training as long as your child is properly supervised. Even if they are not supervised, your child could simply not lift enough weight to replicate these forces. Plain and simple, your child MUST BE PROPERLY SUPERVISED and shown proper lifting technique.

Strength training is an essential component of getting a young athlete's body ready for the forces of sports. We do things backwards in this country....we start kids playing sports at 6, 7, or 8 years old with no basic body movement instruction. How about learning to run, jump, land, change direction, roll, skip, hop BEFORE you dive in hard and fast into sports.

Get your children into the hands of a qualified strength and conditioning coach and watch the amazing improvement in their performance! The added bonus (and most important thing as far as I am concerned) is the decreased chance of injury he/she receives due to this training.

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