Does Working Out Stunt Growth?

Old Wives Tales abound in society such as having heart burn while pregnant means you will give birth to a baby with a lot of hair, or that a piece of chewing gum takes seven years to pass through the digestive system. Another old wives tale is that working out causes your growth to be stunted. Many people have asked the question, does working out stunt growth? For various reasons this myth has perpetuated throughout time.

Although lifting weights does not stunt your growth there are some caveats that you should be aware of when working out.

Soft areas of cartilage located near the end of a bone control its shape and length. These are known as growth plates. Once an adult stops growing these growth plates get hard and become like the rest of the bone.

As older teens near the end of their growing years, the growth plates’ cartilage is in between transitioning from soft to hard. This can leave them susceptible to injury should a serious accident occur. When an adult that has completely ossified bones has an injury it can place a joint under stress that causes a ligament injury, but does not affect the growth plate because it has undergone ossification. It is possible for a youth to experience an injury similar to the adult, but to the growth plate.

Injuries to growth plates are rare, but left untreated may cause a stunt in growth. This is very rare. These types of injuries can be life-threatening if left untreated by a physician. The fact that an individual may suffer damage to the growth plate is the very weak anecdotal evidence that working out may stunt growth.

One of the other reasons that some people believe that working out stunts growth is due to the fact that many bodybuilders and power lifters are naturally short in stature. It is much easier for a power lifter or body builder to lift heavy weight over their heads because they have shorter arms. The weights do not have to travel as far a distance.

Somewhere along the lines someone made the wrong association that lifting weights stunts growth because they observed a disproportionate amount of short statured men in power lifting and bodybuilding contests.

Although weight lifting is good for people, young people should be careful to not start too young. Young people that have developing muscles need to be careful to not over train. Adolescents under the age of 16 should be very careful when lifting weights due to over-training. They should also not use many of the over the counter supplements used by adults such as whey protein, creatine, and fat burners. These supplements may cause serious health problems to people who are still developing.

If you workout and are short it is most likely due to genetics. A person’s height is predetermined since birth. Some factors may hinder growth like malnutrition, but certainly not weight training or working out. So if you’re thinking about taking up weight training rest assured that it will not stunt your growth. You’ll have to thank your genetics for that. Regardless, if you are a teenager you should speak to a health care provider before working out and taking any sort of supplement. Strength training provides a lot of mental and physical benefits, and is great for men and women.

Suzanne Somers

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