How Young Is “Too Young” to Start Training?
If you are like me, you want the best for your children and work to provide every opportunity for them to succeed in life, athletics, etc. We face enormous societal pressures to place children in competitive athletics younger and younger so they don’t “fall behind” their peers. The issue with starting children at such young ages and expecting them to specialize early (play one sport year round) is that we are seeing a scary trend of significant orthopedic injuries earlier and earlier. Recent evidence indicates that not only does early specialization create a greater degree of burnout, but it also causes children to have significantly higher rate of serious sports related injuries such as ACL tears and rotator cuff tears. The reason for these injuries is that we are stressing young, developing muscles and joints at a time when they are vulnerable. In many cases these injuries would be completely avoidable if they were placed on a proper training program and varied the type of sports they play throughout the year.
The most recent evidence indicates that training methods called Integrative Neuromuscular Training are the best approach to utilize with young children and into adolescence. This training method focuses less on the specific sport and more on the fundamental movements that are a component with sports. They consist of strength and conditioning activities including resistance training, dynamic stability exercises, core focused training, plyometric drills and agility training. The most important aspect to keep in mind with this type of training is the proper form and avoidance of compensation. The other expectation is that any athlete that comes into a season “out of shape” is at a greater risk of injury. The child that plays hard for one season and then plays on their phone and barely leaves their bedroom the rest of the year will have issues. A healthy child is one that keeps active year round, that is where you can help your child succeed. Encourage your children to be kids and play tag, catch, and be outside. Your children do watch you and will adapt your habits, so a healthy lifestyle in your life will lead to a healthy lifestyle in theirs. Lead by example and get moving.
We at Performance Plus Rehabilitation Center specialize in exercise, movement, and general health and wellness. Let us help you and your children lead a happy, healthy life.