Lifting for an Injury Free Season

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By Nunzio Signore (BA, NASM, PES, CPT)

Most injuries in young athletes occur towards the end of the season. This is brought on by the wear and tear of endless practices and games which leave the body tired. Once this happens, functional movement patterns become compromised and injury can occur.

Not only is strength training safe, it can help drastically reduce the risk of injury in children (and adults!!). This brings us to the question,” what is a good age for kids to start strength training and how?” Good question. The truth is growth plates and bone maturation is different across different parts of the body. Parts of the elbow mature around 10-13yrs., the shoulder 16-19yrs., where some like the clavicle don’t reach maturation until ages 20-23 yrs.

A lot of kids come into our facility with arm issues from throwing (note: internal rotation of the humerus while throwing is the fastest motion in sports.), back pain from playing soccer year round, or any one of the many overuse injuries that are associated with non-stop seasons. We have never had anyone come in with injuries associated with strength training unless it was unsupervised.

Violent throwing and falling events far exceed any stress on a young athletes bones that we could possibly apply during a strength training session. Here’s why:

  • The environment is controlled
  • The load is GRADUALLY increased over time
  • The session is monitored by a qualified professional

Starting children off with bodyweight exercises and learning correct form can be started as early as his/her attention span will allow. At RPP, we have introductory programs for children ages 11and 12 where only body weight is used and correct form is taught.

With as active as kids are, jumping out of trees, lugging around heavy backpacks, sprinting for the bus or at recess, it’s only right to give them a fair chance at avoiding injury.

Also, as an adolescent grows, his or her center of gravity moves further from the ground which is why we see the clumsiness associated with growth spurts. By making a child stronger, we also give him a stronger base of support to hold himself up.  This is why a lot of our parents tell us that since coming to RPP their child’s posture has gotten so much better and so has their confidence.  This also transfers over to sports where an athlete is able to keep himself lower to the ground in a more “ready” stance which will enable them to move more explosively.

The fact of the matter is that regular participation in a well- rounded resistance program can reduce the risk of injury in young athletes, provided it is done by qualified professionals in a safe environment. All training sessions should be supervised, and “age appropriate” instruction on proper form should be administered.

This type of program can go a long way in insuring that your child will finish the season “as strong as they started”.

Will You Be Ready For The Next Season?

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