CrossFit Discussion Board  

Go Back   CrossFit Discussion Board > CrossFit Forum > Fitness
CrossFit Home Forum Site Rules CrossFit FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 05-08-2005, 07:01 PM   #1
Paul Scott Suliin
Member Paul Scott Suliin is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: San Jose  CA
Posts: 173
There's some controversy among coaches and physicians about whether or not weightlifting is appropriate for children - especially preadolescents. Many doctors advise against it, arguing that it may be harmful. Many coaches recommend it.

http://www.tkohl.com/restrain.htm

The above article discusses this in some technical depth. I'd be interested to read what the experts here think.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2005, 07:28 PM   #2
Matt Gagliardi
Member Matt Gagliardi is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Memphis  TN
Posts: 946
From the article:
The authors define strength or resistance training as a program of regular exercises which use one or a combination of training methods and devices (free weights, pneumatic and hydraulic machines, body weight) in an attempt to increase strength. It is considered to be a completely separate activity from the sports of power lifting or competitive weightlifting.

So...we're discussing resistance training as an adjunct to a "primary" sport. An adjunct with the desired effect of improving performance in the "primary" sport. Not a discussion of whether Oly lifting (for example) is an appropriate sport.

When planning sport programs for children, many coaches therefore face the following ethical dilemma:
• Are there potential short and long term benefits on performance that may result from controlled resistance training during preadolescence?
• Are the benefits, if any, worthwhile in light of potential risks?


We're talking about benefits of resistance training in preadolescent children...defined in the article as children 11-13 years old. Look at how these questions are being framed. Is there long-term benefit? Are the benefits worth the potential risks? My question is this...does anyone feel that it's rational to subject 11-13 year old children to these questions? What happened to sports for the sake of play/health? Must we focus so intensely on performance...at such a young age...that we're doing what amounts to a cost/benefit examination with children as the subject?

It seems to me that the article essentially boils down to "we may have blown up some old myths regarding strength training and kids...but we don't actually know for sure because there aren't any firm study results". It's all speculative.

Not to be touchy-feely about it, because that's really not my nature...but I think we've gone a bit far with respect to kid's athletics when we're worried about adding resistance training (as an adjunct) to improve performance in 11-13 year olds. What's happened to the concept of playing sports for fun? IMO, yes you can use resistance training (in certain forms) safely with children of that age. I think the better question is not "can it be done", but "should it be done".

Just my $0.02
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2005, 09:43 PM   #3
Sonia Ng
Departed Sonia Ng is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jan 1970
 
Posts: 91
Where's the research study for:

"The Possible Adverse Effects of {INSERT MOST HATED CHILDHOOD CHORE HERE} on 11-13 Year Olds"?

-or-

"Hauling Lumber to Build Tree-Forts: Good or Bad for Youth?"

(I couldn't resist)
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2005, 11:09 PM   #4
Paul Scott Suliin
Member Paul Scott Suliin is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: San Jose  CA
Posts: 173
Matt, I think you have a point, but in fact the idea of "playing sports for fun" has unfortunately grown a little quaint when it comes to things like school athletics and other formal sorts of child-sport competitions. Olympic-level gymnastics and figure-skating may involve pre-adolescent children. So may competitive martial arts, and various state and national sports competitions ranging from track to baseball to powerlifting.

For any competition at that level most coaches are going to have look seriously at assistance training of some sort in addition to basic drills for the sport itself. Failure to do this will almost surely put the child out of the running. So this isn't so much a question that children have to face as a question that their coaches have to decide: Is there a threat to the child? Is there a benefit? Is the potential benefit worth the potential threat?

I agree that the article doesn't solidly answer any of these, but it does set them forth clearly for others to address.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 05:32 AM   #5
Matt Gagliardi
Member Matt Gagliardi is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Memphis  TN
Posts: 946
I agree that some sports may be the exception...figure skating, women's gymnastics, etc. are examples of sports where pre-teens are "relevant" competitors (strange though...have you noticed that those are "women's" sports?). Powerlifting should not be included in this discussion; the article you posted expressly noted that it wasn't part of the study (and let's face it...strength training is weightlifting).

I don't believe that my question is "quaint" at all...I think it's particularly relevant. There is a lot of work being done currently about whether we're putting too much stress on our kids between school, sports, etc. etc. I know HS kids that are up to midnight and 1am doing homework...and these are smart kids who aren't procrastinators. The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about the subject this past weekend in fact. Do we need to be putting this level of expectation and stress on 11-13 year olds?

I've personally witnessed way too many cases of "burnout" to take this lightly. When we say/write things like "has unfortunately grown a little quaint"...well, then only reason it's grown "quaint" is that we've allowed it to do so. We can also pull it back from that should we choose to do so. IMO, at 11-13 years old, sports still need to be about fun (rare exceptions of world-class talent in sports that eat their young aside). You write that not adding resistance training will "put the child out of the running". Out of the running for what? We're talking about 11-13 year olds. Not eligible for even an athletic scholarship for at least 4-5 more years.

As I wrote earlier...I do believe that yes, you can expose pre-teens to strength training (carefully) without physical ill effects. But I'm very skeptical of doing so (in addition to a "primary" sport) when I consider the mental/emotional side of the equation.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 07:47 AM   #6
Kalen Meine
Member Kalen Meine is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Denver  CO
Posts: 329
I'm going to have to back Matt up on this one. Sure, you can resistance train the youngins, if you're careful (just as everyone should be careful- orthopedic work fairly well sucks) They have muscles after all. But the idea that we're trying to specialize kids for a sport when they still have pre-pubescent brains is fundamentally the scary part. I freely admit that while I have a keen interest in physical fitness, I'm no sports hound- hence the attraction to "fringe"-ish efforts like martial arts, rock climbing, etc. Our culture as a whole seems to have gone to the other extreme- fatter and sicker than ever, but more obsessed with more and better athletic performance, frequently out of children (perhaps the fat mom & pop living vicariously through their lean and mean 10 year old?) ANd I can't imagine it does anyone any good. The Soviets (and yes, I hate to bring up TOP SECRET SOVIET TRAINING TOO DANGEROUS FOR YOU TO EVER HOPE TO UNDERSTAND TM) often refused to specialize young athletes simply because they didn't know how the kids were going to turn out, in terms of physical or mental characteristics. My father added 6" to his height when he was 20- training him as a jockey at the age of ten might not have been the best idea. Seriously, 13-year olds, uber-competitive or not, need more fun and know less about what they want in life than being strapped to a squat rack entails. They need to play- if they want to "play" with some weights (like many of us around here do- I hope) that's fine. But getting Junior a strength coach before his voice drops just doesn't seem to make sense for me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 09:18 AM   #7
Roger Harrell
Affiliate Roger Harrell is offline
 
Roger Harrell's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: San Rafael  CA
Posts: 2,318
Speaking in the gymnastics community resistance training is pretty essential for injury prevention in programs which the kids are progressing rapidly and moving to more demanding skills. Without the strength training, even doing the skills properly can lead to injuries. This resistance training starts very young. The resistance training also has to be approached properly. eg training iron crosses at a young age can do damage. So coaches must be knowledgeable about specifics in their sport and what is proper to train, how hard, etc. Also the fun aspect (in my opinion) must be kept high. But I feel the fun aspect must be kept high throughout, otherwise, why are we doing sport at all. It's organized play.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 12:11 PM   #8
Paul Scott Suliin
Member Paul Scott Suliin is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: San Jose  CA
Posts: 173
Matt, I realized that the authors excluded powerlifting from their study, but biomechanically it still needs to be considered in a similar light. After all the child's body can't tell any difference between military presses done to strengthen a handstand for gymnastics and presses done as assistance exercises for a C&J. Resistance is resistance regardless of the reason. In fact logically if overload training is damaging to young bodies then those issues would be even greater in sports where the goal is explicitly to strive for greater and greater lifts.

As far as that goes, what about CrossFit for children? This program isn't designed for any specific sport at all, but it does include the sorts of resistance training we're talking about. And we do aim to have fun, in our own masochistic ways. :biggrin: Are there special issues that need to be explored there?

The point I was getting at when writing about the "quaintness" of the play for fun principle is that outside the playground and sandlot it isn't much observed any more. Kids are seen more and more in competition at the state and national level in sports that they wouldn't have been seen in when you and I were growing up. There was no elementary school division in the state high-jump, pole-vault, shot-put, or powerlifting chamionships back in the 60s as far as I know. We're starting to see things like that now. I know a 7 year old who is running relay.

As Roger points out, in gymnastics such training is essential. The reason you don't see preadolescent boys so much in that arena is that the events that boys'/men's gymnastics relies on are more strength-based (rings, the horse) whereas girls' gymnastics requires strength but also balance and agility to a greater degree. But even though they don't compete until they get older and begin to put on muscle, boys still begin training early, so the issues are much the same.

BTW, here's an interesting, if rather sad fact in that context. I used to work at the drug-testing laboratory at UCLA that tests Olympic and professional athletes for drug use (I'm an analytical and medicinal chemist by training). We had different sets of screens that we ran for different sports, and in girls' gymnastics one of the things we screened for was a class of drugs that delay the onset of puberty when given to young girls. When a girl's body begins to develop toward womanhood it becomes harder for her to do some of the things that are required in that sport. So coaches would sometimes administer these drugs to their athletes both to extend their competitive careers and to allow more time for a girl to gain experience, so she could compete with an advantage over younger girls.

Such drugs have nasty long-term side-effects, of course, but there you have it. That's the competitive atmosphere that we need to address.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 12:27 PM   #9
Lincoln Brigham
Member Lincoln Brigham is offline
 
Lincoln Brigham's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Kirkland  WA
Posts: 3,987
Any childhood activity that requires a helmet is going to be several orders of magnitude more dangerous than strength training. Yet you don't hear of doctors calling for a ban on preadolescent baseball, bicycling, skateboarding, etc.
  Reply With Quote
Old 05-09-2005, 12:41 PM   #10
Paul Scott Suliin
Member Paul Scott Suliin is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: San Jose  CA
Posts: 173
You have a point, Lincoln. Though you DID hear doctors calling for helmets in such activities, when they were hardly ever used when you and I were growing up.

I think the theoretical difference from a medical perspective is that injuries resulting from a fall tend to be acute and immediately obvious. The sorts of damage that physicians express concern about in strength training tend to be chronic, subtle, and harder to treat.

Mind you, I'm not convinced myself that strength training is bad for kids. It did me no harm, and I know of no large-scale studies showing a higher incidence of problems in sports where it's common practice. I started this thread mainly to get some dialogue going and to learn what experts here thought of these issues.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Diet foods for children may inadvertently lead to overeating and obesity. Alicia Michel Nutrition 12 08-15-2007 11:54 AM
Children and weight lifting Clay A Cooper Starting 2 02-05-2007 08:40 AM
Dairy and Children Nathan Stanley Nutrition 19 04-05-2006 06:09 AM
At what age is it safe to give your children fish oil? Matthew Townsend Nutrition 2 09-02-2005 05:33 PM
Crossfit and Young Children Ryan Atkins Fitness 7 04-18-2004 10:55 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:23 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.