Many of you like the idea of working out with your children. With this in mind it is important to make you all aware of potential risk areas in relation to minors using the gym equipment.
It would be wrong to suggest that there are no dangers to the young lifter. The main concern in the early days is dealing with the final growth spurt which takes place between the ages of 14 -15 in boys and earlier in girls. The phenomenon of “growing pains” is quite real and for those afflicted it usually means the cessation of all physical training activities, including physical education, for a period often as long as six months and sometimes longer than a year. The most common “growing pain” is Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease and involves the insertion of the patellar tendon onto the tibia (shin bone).
The growing end plates of the bones (epiphyseal growth plates) are soft and where there are tendons attached there is potential for some tearing of tendon fibres away from the bone and damage can occur. With heavy weight lifting these plates can be damaged and potential future growth of the child is inhibited.
Many fathers in particular are keen for their sons to increase their muscle mass, however in young boys there is often what we term as testosterone limits which simply means young boys do not have the body chemistry at this young age to get any significant development.
It must be stressed that this affliction is not specific to weightlifting but found right across the spectrum of sports. All coaches in all sports should be on the look out for this condition and similar conditions involving the Achilles tendon insertion on to the heel, the growing end plates of the spine and occasionally the upper ends of the thigh bone.
Taking this information on board we suggest that the young male only complete aerobic activity, exercises that use his/her own body weight. I.E. Pull ups, push ups, dips etc when using the gym.
We trust this information will protect your child from causing injuries that may effect them from doing sporting activities as they age.
Yours in Health and Fitness