Strength Training For Children

When can my child start strength training?

With over 40 million children in the United States involved in recreational sports, this is a common question I get at well visits. It may surprise you to know that many major medical associations agree that strength training can begin to be incorporated into a child’s overall sports training program even as young as 7-8 years old.

An overall sports training program should include exercises aimed at improving cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and sports specific drills. Strength training, aka resistance training, is the gradual increase of forces exerted on the body to improve the strength of the musculoskeletal system. The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports and Fitness supports the use of strength training as part of a sports training program. The AAP does not support the sport of competitive weight lifting in a skeletally immature athlete as this may place excessive loads on an immature skeleton potentially causing injuries.

While strength training has many benefits, it can also have consequences. If proper supervision and safety cannot be ensured for your child, then strength training should not be used in his/her sports exercise program.

BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING

  • Increased muscular strength and endurance
  • Prevention of Injuries
  • Improvement of sports performance
  • Improved self- confidence, self-esteem, and body image 

POTENTIAL RISKS

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tears
  • Joint Dislocations
  • Spinal injuries 

TWO IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

  1. Injuries occur commonly with improper technique and training as well as lack of supervision and excessive loads.
  2. Children with chronic medical conditions should be cleared by a medical provider prior to starting any strength training program. 

Travis Lewis, a Kids Plus care provider, is a certified Athletic Trainer and a certified Physician Assistant.