Big gyms typically don’t allow kids to join and roam around without direct supervision. That makes sense, since many of the machines and weights are dangerous. Kids could drop something heavy on their toes, or pinch their fingers between heavy objects.
To keep kids safe, they should always have adult supervision in a weight room. For many years, and even today in some cases, that’s not the only fear that parents have of their children in a weight room.
There’s a pervasive myth that lifting weights will stunt a child’s growth. We’re not talking about smaller children, under the age of 10. The argument is that teens and pre-teens who are entering their growth spurt shouldn’t lift weights because bulky muscles prevent growth.
First, let’s talk about how kids grow. On the end of some long bones, like the femur and tibia, there are structures called epiphyseal growth plates. They’re responsible for making bones grow longer, and are extremely important for the growth of a child.
To hinder growth, weight training would have to effectively break or seal off these growth plates. That’s simply not the case, as long as kids are participating in a responsibly-made and supervised strength training program, according to a study published in Physician and Sports Medicine.
In fact, things that can seal off or disturb these growth plates include jarring impacts and injury to the bone. Neither of those are likely to happen in the weight room, since movements are controlled and impact is low. Jumping and running aggressively create much more impact force through the bones, but kids are encouraged to do sports and activities that involve both.
That’s not meant to scare you away from putting your kid into a sports program, it’s meant to put things into perspective. The weight room is a safe place for your kids to learn how to move properly and build their muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments.
When kids hit their growth spurt, their bodies change quickly. It’s important to keep them active but safe during that time, since their coordination can be thrown off. Weight training is one of the best ways to let them move in a controlled environment, so that they can rebuild their strength and coordination. In fact, you can make them less prone to injury by doing so. Remember that the weight room is predictable, competitive sports are not.