Kids are often a bit too eager to grow into strong, adult bodies. Many kids may want to start weightlifting at an early age, yet their parents may hesitant to allow them to pick up this new activity due to concerns that it can stunt their physical development. Stunted growth is a common concern for young athletes and health-conscious parents. For years, widespread myths have linked early weightlifting to stunted growth. Before we can accept that there is a connection, it’s important to understand how stunted growth typically occurs.
Growth plates, or epiphyseal plates, are responsible for bone growth in growing kids and teens. These plates are located at the ends of the bones and divide and regenerate throughout the child’s development, supporting the growth of new bone. Once the child is fully grown, the regeneration ceases. These plates then mineralize to form the ends of mature bones. The common belief that weightlifting stunts growth stems from the fear that weightlifting can damage the growth plates due to the impact this exercise can have on the bones and joints.
Estrogen and testosterone levels in young adults play a significant role in their growth. At first, these hormones promote growth by increasing the secretion of growth hormone. Toward the end of puberty, they initiate the closure of the epiphyseal growth plates. Studies have shown that high power resistance exercises like weightlifting promote the secretion of these hormones, which leads to muscular hypertrophy (muscular growth). It is possible that children who start and end puberty early will grow to be a few inches shorter than expected.
Directly equating “child weightlifting” with “stunted growth” is an outdated concept. In reality, kids who develop a healthy habit of regular exercise and clean eating are more likely to reach their full potential height; while inactive kids who do not eat balanced meals are more likely to miss out on a few inches of growth.
A healthy body should be your primary concern if you are worried about the physical growth of your child. Ensure that they are eating well and exercising. PumpFit Club has classes with trained professionals that will set you on the right track. Contact us for a free class today!