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Exercise and Fitness

Children training too hard?

07/21/2005

Question:

My son is a ice hockey player. He is 13 years old. He recently made a team that is ranked very well in the country. But I am concerned with the training habits of these children. All children attend a weight training and running program for two hours, four days a week. They are also on the ice for an hour and half twice a week. Along with a four game weekend schedule. Most children also play one or more other sports. And then there are the die hard parents who also have personal ice trainers once or twice a week. Having watched these children over the last couple of years I have noticed that even though they are in puberty most of the kids are growing at a slower rate then the children who do not attend or have such a heavy schedule. I was wondering if this heavy regiment of practice and exerise can effect a child growth. Are there any long term effects on a child`s body if they over exercise?

Answer:

According to the NSCA's Essentials of Strength and Conditioning (2000), "an epiphyseal (growth) plate fracture has not been reported in any youth resistance training study that adhered to established training guidelines.  Even one rep-max testing in children is safe, provided that appropriate testing guidelines are followed (i.e., adequate warm-up periods, individual progression of loads, and close supervision).  It seems that if children are taught how to resistance-train properly, the risk of an epiphyseal plate fracture is minimal."

"The greatest concern for young weight trainers may be the risk for repetitive-use soft-tissue injuries."

Making sure your son has properly trained supervision and adequate rest (time off), will decrease his chances of injury short and long term. 

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Response by:

Jayme   Johnson, MS Jayme Johnson, MS
Program Manager
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati