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Sport Specific Training

Student Athlete: 4 Ways to Avoid Stunting Your Growth

It’s a common fear among parents of talented, athletic young children. Could starting a weight lifting program prematurely lead to stunted growth?

While there is a threat, with the correct technique and strategy your student athlete can exercise without worry. Here are some tips to follow.

Make Sure You’re Eating Enough

Growing bodies need energy. Fuel is required for all the natural growth and maturation processes to function properly.

A lack of calories and nutrients could mean these developmental processes aren’t operating at full capacity. Malnutrition is the leading cause of stunted growth worldwide. It’s especially prevalent in low-income areas with limited abilities to consume balanced diets.

For athletes, vigorous exercise burns more energy on top of what is used by the body during regular day-to-day activities.

This is the main root of the threat of stunted growth among children and teenagers who exercise and lift weights. It’s not the lifting of the weights per se, but rather an energy deficit created by the extra work done by the body.

To avoid stunting growth, it’s essential for young athletes’ bodies to have enough energy.

Luckily, the solution to this is simple: Eat. Food is calories, and calories are energy for the body. By maintaining a healthy appetite, a student athlete can get the nutrients he or she needs to avoid stunted growth.

Focus on Technique

While nutrition is the main worry for stunted growth, there are other mistakes a young athlete can make that will lead to long-term consequences.

One of these issues is weightlifting injuries caused by poor technique.

Although young bodies are agile and tend to heal faster than an adult’s, some injuries can nag for a lifetime. Injuries can also sideline a student athlete and interfere with their ability to play and improve on the field.

When a child or teen is beginning to work with weight training, it’s important for them to start small and focus on proper technique. Start with only bodyweight exercises before moving up to a light 10 or 15 additional pounds.

Beginning slow will help prevent injury. It will also establish correct muscle memory for optimal results at more advanced stages

Keep Perspective

It’s helpful for aspiring bodybuilders to understand the nuances of their bodies and the differences between youth and adult bodies.

For example, teen bodies don’t generate the same levels of testosterone as an adult male’s. This could cause muscle mass to disappear much quicker if the athlete stops lifting for a period of time.

Seeing results like that might be discouraging. But by being aware of how their bodies work at that age, they will be better able to understand the situation and keep a positive perspective.

Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle

The key to a fully developed and fit body is to lead a healthy lifestyle.

On top of exercising and eating right, aspiring athletes should also get a full night’s sleep, maintain proper hygiene, and stay away from dangerous drugs.

A strong support system and close friends can relieve some of the mental stress on the body, and encouraging performance in academics helps to build a well-rounded individual.

Bodybuilding Tips for the Student Athlete

With the right strategy, you don’t need to worry about your child facing stunted growth from working out.

For more tips on exercise for youth athletes, follow the Las Vegas Sports Performance blog.