THE ANSWER IS YES...
BUT KEEP READING !!!
This is a question I have been asked by parents many times over the years and my answer is always the same: YES!. Weight training has not been shown to stunt the growth of children, and actually promotes the growth of healthy and strong bones in addition to many other benefits.
In my experience, parents' main concern for their children when it comes to weight training in a gym is the potential to break a bone or growth plate. While the concern is valid, if a child is in a controlled environment, with a good coach who has experience working with kids, and the child is coachable, then the risk is extremely minimal. In fact, kids are more susceptible for injury while playing their sport without proper strength training. This is largely in part because of the many benefits strength training has to offer such as:
In addition, when comparing sports and number of injuries sustained in those sports, weight lifting does not make the top list of sport related injuries according to Stanford Children's Health. According to Stanford, the sports that have children sustain the most injuries are:
While most of the sports in this list are organized, there is still risk of injury in even unorganized sport as indicated by the list above. So if the risk is so minimal for weight training and kids, why are parents so concerned?
Again, in my experience, when parents approach me about weight training for their children they are quick to mention, “but just not crossfit.” It is very common now for parents to think of or maybe even expect a crossfit style environment when they walk into some gyms. As I mentioned earlier, children should be training in a controlled environment, with an experienced coach and in a private or semi-private setting. The coach needs to have a plan and be able to explain and demonstrate to children how to perform various movements. Typically this is done first under no weight or very little weight. As the child progresses over time, the difficulty and intensity of the exercises can increase should the child demonstrate proper form with little deviation.
After looking at the risks of children playing in both organized and unorganized sport vs weight training, it is easy to see that in the proper setting, weight training offers very minimal risk to children and is safe. In fact, the benefits of weight training can even decrease the risk of injury associated with most sports by creating better, stronger, healthier athletes in children.
Dr. Jessica Robinson, PT, DPT
The short answer: yes! Weight training can have a multitude of benefits for dancers and gymnasts alike. Weight training is not a new concept for these two groups and has been slowly gaining traction over recent years; however, it does still come with some uncertainty and occasional controversy.
Traditionally, conditioning and cross training for dancers and gymnasts has consisted of Pilates, yoga, band work, and mainly body weight and/or sport specific exercises. While these forms of conditioning are still good options and have their place, it has been shown that they are not sufficient enough to reproduce the forces placed on the body during training and competition activities. For example, in gymnastics, forces being applied to the body when doing skills or landings can reach upwards of 15x that of body weight.
The reason weight training can produce greater increases in muscular strength and endurance than body weight exercises alone is the fact that weight training results in a larger recruitment of muscle fibers. Tailored programming can also help to develop the neuromuscular systems in the body to increase both the activation and efficiency of muscle groups. Other specific benefits can include:
With so many benefits, the real question is why aren’t dancers and gymnasts weight training more often like we see in other types of athletics?? There are some common myths associated with weight training amongst both these groups that we’ll go ahead and address.
As we can see, weight training is definitely an effective way to enhance performance in both of these sports. While it is effective for building strength, it is important to note that it is only one aspect of cross training/conditioning. It should not be seen as a replacement for other forms of conditioning or dance/gymnastics specific training but rather as a compliment to bring about greater results, creating a well-rounded and more resilient athlete/individual.
If you are interested in learning more about how weight training can enhance your sport performance, feel free to contact us!
1. Lauersen JB;Bertelsen DM;Andersen. “The Effectiveness of Exercise Interventions to Prevent Sports Injuries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24100287/.
2. Brown, Andrea C., et al. “Effects of Plyometric Training versus Traditional Weight Training on Strength, Power, and Aesthetic Jumping Ability in Female Collegiate Dancers.” Latest TOC RSS, J. Michael Ryan Publishing Inc., 1 June 2007.
3. Iversen VM;Mork PJ;Vasseljen O;Bergquist R;Fimland MS; “Multiple-Joint Exercises Using Elastic Resistance Bands vs. Conventional Resistance-Training Equipment: A Cross-over Study.” European Journal of Sport Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28628370/.
4. Koutedakis, Yiannis, et al. “(PDF) Muscular Strength: Applications for Dancers.” ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44392574_Muscular_Strength_Applications_for_Dancers.
5. Shift Movement Science. Ultimate Gymnastics Strength Guide.
What is really happening when you get stressed?
Mikaela Isa, Performance Coach
Stress is a fact of life, unfortunately our body doesn’t differentiate between emotional and physical stress. It’s important to understand what is happening inside the body when stress occurs to support our health in the best way possible and optimize recovery! We must learn how to stop and listen to the cues our bodies are giving us before it takes over our most essential functions. When you get stressed your body produces a hormone called “cortisol”. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands which sit on top of each kidney. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body and can help your body respond to stress or danger.
Most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. After the pressure or danger has passed, your cortisol level should calm down. Your heart, blood pressure, and other body systems will get back to normal. But what if you’re under constant stress and the alarm button stays on?
It can derail your body’s most important functions. It can also lead to a number of health problems, including:
● Anxiety and depression
● Heart disease
● Memory and concentration problems
● Problems with digestion
● Trouble sleeping
● Weight gain
In order to combat stress and get back to our relaxed state we need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Stress has the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) activated and as we’ve seen above, being in that state for too long can cause lasting health issues.
How can we activate the parasympathetic nervous system?
● Deep Breathing
Set a timer for 5 minutes, put your feet up on the wall and focus on deep breathing in through your nose to fill your belly with air for 5 seconds and then slowly exhale out your mouth for 5-7 seconds.
●Touch your lips gently with your eyes closed, pay attention to how it makes your belly feel. Your lips have parasympathetic fibers spread throughout them, so touching them activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
● Take a bath!
● Light aerobic exercise
○. Yoga & Stretching
○. Talk a walk
What else can I do to help de-stress?
● Organize your thoughts and tasks, make a list of what you need to do and prioritize it by giving each task a
deadline or goal of when you want to accomplish the task. This tells your subconscious a few things.
○ You will get what you need to get done.
○ You won’t forget what you need to do.
○ This gives you something to work toward and achieve, it will not only be rewarding but it will bring a sense of
purpose to your day/week.
● Get the right amount of sleep. 7 hours+ to help your body recover from the stress you face mentally, emotionally
● Recognize stressful thinking - “stinkin thinkin”
Some are naturally more negative than others, some are more positive. Each way of thinking has its place and the right balance can have your mental state singing harmonies. Too much one way or the other and it causes an imbalance. Particularly dwelling on negative thoughts, emotions or making up scenarios in your head (no you’re not the only one who does that)
○ Journal - writing out your thoughts can be an escape. This is especially helpful for emotional stressors, it
can be just as helpful as talking to an old friend.
○ Write a bible verse or an affirmation for yourself and put it where you can see it.
● Learn to say no to things you don’t have time for, you do not need to do it all.
● Take a break when you are overwhelmed. This could be 5 minutes or this could be a season of life where you take a break from added responsibilities.
Author: Annemarie Alf
"We Specialize In Optimizing Teen And Active Adult Lives In North County San Diego By Addressing The WHOLE Person. We offer A Holistic, Integrative Approach To Performance And Wellness That Will Assess And Address The Root Causes That Lead To Pain, Hormonal Imbalances, Fatigue, Weight Gain And/ Or Decreased Performance."