Weightlifting is often considered the core element of any workout program. Where it plays a vital role in building muscles, it can also help in losing body weight and maintaining your desired body shape. However, there is usually a dilemma about weightlifting when it comes to young athletes or teenagers. Does it stunt growth? Or does it not? And even if it does, how does weight lifting stunt growth?
To find out, let’s focus on the effects of weight lifting on the growth plates. Growth plates or epiphyseal plates are responsible for the growth of bones in teenagers and adolescents. These cartilage plates that are situated at the end of bones divide and regenerate throughout the development of a child. This long process of regeneration comes to an end when a child reaches his full height – the cartilage plates get mineralized and form the end of mature bones.
According to a study in 2009 carried out by Katherine Dahab and Teri McCambridge from the Johns Hopkins University, there are concerns about the impact of weight lifting on joints and bones, ultimately resulting in damaged growth plates and stunted growth.
However, recent studies have shown that the myths linking weight lifting to stunted growth are nothing but misconceptions. Recent research highlights that regular weightlifting exercises combined with a healthy diet would assist an individual to achieve maximum height.
Moreover, Betsy Keller of Ithaca College disregards such myths by suggesting that these misconceptions exist solely because the research focuses on a certain group of athletes. She believes that the evidence for the adverse impact of weight lifting on growth stems from sports that are generally suited for short people (for example gymnastics).
Does Weight Lifting Stunt Growth
According to her, weightlifting can be more beneficial than any other form of exercise in ensuring proper bone growth among young individuals. This speculation directly denies the widespread belief that weightlifting can stunt growth when you are young.
Here the question arises that if weightlifting doesn’t stunt growth, then why the popular belief? A very logical reason would be that the best bodybuilders and weightlifters are usually short since it’s easier to lift heavy weights over your shoulders if you are shorter. Bodybuilders and weightlifters who weigh around 100kg are also generally short. The reason behind this is the difficulty to consume the massive amount of food necessary to catalyze a proportionate muscle growth for taller men compared to that of short-heighted bodybuilders with smaller overall muscles.
People typically accept what they see and since the best bodybuilders are short, they jump to the misconception that weight lifting exercises done by teenagers result in stunted growth. Therefore, one should not avoid strength training only because of the fear of growth stunt. A moderate level of weightlifting exercises together with a healthy diet will benefit one in many ways and develop good habits that would eventually aid him in adulthood.