Lifting weights will not stunt your growth.
However, there are caveats you should be aware of. Read on.
What does it mean to stunt one’s growth?
Soft areas of cartilage near the end of a growing bone regulate its shape and eventual length. These regions are called growth plates. When you stop growing, the growth plates in your bones harden and become functionally identical to the rest of your bone tissue.
When an older adolescent nears the end of his growth spurt, the strength of his bones’ growth plates is often less than the strength of his ligaments. This is especially true in youngsters who engage in strength training activities like weight lifting and bodybuilding.
If an adult with fully ossified bones – bones which are not growing longer – suffers an unfortunate accident, it may put a joint under enough stress to cause ligament damage. When an adolescent is involved in the same sort of accident, and his bone’s growth plate is weaker than his ligaments, he often ends up with a growth plate fracture rather than a ligament tear.
An untreated growth plate fracture may stunt your growth. This sort of fracture is a serious injury with potentially life-altering consequences, but with competent medical attention it does not have to be the crippling injury that it once was. Contemporary orthopedic surgeons can successfully treat these injuries in all but the worst cases.
How is weight lifting related to stunted growth?
Strong adolescents – who might have developed their strength through weight lifting – may suffer a growth-plate fracture rather than a ligament tear because their still-soft growth plates are the weak link in the anatomy in and around their joints. It is this fact that leads to speculation regarding a link between strength training (including weight lifting) and growth plate fractures.
Soccer, basketball, football, skateboarding, and bicycling are the five activities most likely to result in growth plate fracture.
The US government collects data on injuries among adolescents. Its findings indicate that approximately 50% of growth plate fractures occur during sports or recreation activities. Soccer, basketball, football, skateboarding, and bicycling are the five activities most likely to result in growth plate fracture. Weight training was not directly implicated in any growth plate fractures.
It is reasonable to conclude that the old wives’ tale which states that weight lifting can stunt your growth is not only false, it is harmful. The risk of growth plate fracture from an accident during recreational activities is no reason for adolescents to be denied the many positive benefits of strength training.
If weight lifting doesn’t stunt growth, why do so many people believe that it does?
Many people confuse cause with effect.
The best weight lifters and bodybuilders are generally short. It is easier to lift a heavy weight over your head if you are short, because you don’t need to raise the weight as far off the ground. Bodybuilders, who may weigh 220 pounds (100 kg) or more, are usually also short, simply because it is difficult for taller men to eat the massive amounts of food required to fuel a proportionate amount of muscle growth to that of a shorter man with smaller muscles overall.
Since the very best weight lifters and bodybuilders are short, many people jump to the mistaken conclusion that weight lifting is responsible for stature, instead of concluding that stature is responsible for success in weight lifting.
Additionally, before modern medical treatments were developed, if an unusually-strong child survived a growth-plate fracture, he often remained crippled for life. It is easy to blame the child’s strength for the injury, rather than the accident which injured him.
I’m worried that I am not tall enough. What can I do?
Many adolescents worry about their height.
If you are shorter than you’d like, there’s not much you can do about it except to make sure that you are not malnourished or undernourished.
If you are malnourished, you are suffering from insufficient amounts of essential nutrients. If you are undernourished, you are not getting enough calories to meet the energy requirements of your growing body. To ensure that you have enough nutrients to fuel your growth, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet while avoiding the empty calories found in junk food.
Don’t avoid strength training because you are worried about stunting your growth. A moderate level of strength training activity will benefit you in many ways and help you develop good habits that will pay dividends in adulthood.
Are you trying to add muscle mass by lifting weights and eating correctly? Check out some other articles on SkinnyBulkUp.Com for advice on diet, exercise theory, and more. There is a list of basic bulking articles on the right-hand side of the page, or you can find many more articles by checking out the category lists in the menu at the top of the page; you’re sure to find something interesting there.
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