As many of you have seen, a topic is made everyday asking whether weightlifting stunts your growth. I have decided to prove to you all that it does not. So let us begin.
The first question to be addressed is: What does "stunting your growth" mean?
To "stunt your growth", the growth plates of the human body must be injured. The most common being overuse injures or even a fall/blow to the limb - causing bone fractures. Bone infections, extreme cold, radiations and certain medications, neurological disorders and metabolic disease also can cause growth plate injuries.
So what are growth plates?
The growth plates are areas of growing tissue near the end of bones. Growth plates are located on the long bones of children and young people.
Each long bone has at least two growth plates-one at each end. This is where the long bones grow. When young people finish growing, the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone.
Thus injuries to the growth plates are especially dangerous for adolescents. Halting the growth of a child is undesirable and thus should be avoided(duh). Paranoid parents becoming more aware thus began questioning whether weight lifting could stunt the growth of their children.
However, as stated earlier - unless the heavy weights collide with the bone, weight lifting will not cause bone fractures - thus not "stunting the growth" of a child. However, you don't simply have to take my word for it.
Experimental programs most often used isotonic machines and free weights, 2- and 3-day protocols, and 8- and 12-week durations, with significant improvements in muscular strength during childhood and early adolescence. Strength gains were lost during detraining. Experimental resistance training programs did not influence growth in height and weight of pre- and early-adolescent youth, and changes in estimates of body composition were variable and quite small. Only 10 studies systematically monitored injuries, and only three injuries were reported. Estimated injury rates were 0.176, 0.053, and 0.055 per 100 participant-hours in the respective programs.
CONCLUSION: Experimental training protocols with weights and resistance machines and with supervision and low instructor/participant ratios are relatively safe and do not negatively impact growth and maturation of pre- and early-pubertal youth.
Epiphyseal plate (growth plate) fractures may be the key concern in this controversy. Damage to these plates induced by weight training is frequently cited as a reason for avoiding weight training in children. The existing medical and scientific data do not support this as a valid contraindication. One instance of epiphyseal fracture attributed to weightlifting has been reported in preadolescents (Gumbs, 1982). In pubescent athletes, five publications have reported instances of fractures related to weight training (Benton, 1983; Brady, 1982; Gumbs, 1982; Rowe, 1979; Ryan, 1976). The overwhelming majority of these injuries were attributed to improper technique in the execution of the exercises and excessive loading. Each report failed to consider that the injury may actually have occurred as a result of contact with the floor or other object subsequent to loss of balance and falling, and not be attributable to the actual weight training movement. Further, proper diagnosis and treatment of this rare injury resulted in no detrimental effect on growth (Caine, 1990).
It has also been noted that weight training does not interfere with growth by other means (Ramsey, 1990; Sailors, 1987; Seigel, 1989; Weltman, 1986). Research reviewed by Theintz (1994) seems to suggest that sport training for less than 15 hours per week was not disruptive to hormonal status, growth or puberty.
Summarized, the present investigation showed that exercise has
a positive effect in attainment of peak bone mass, an effect that is
preserved during maturation and consolidation of bone mass. We
also found a positive effect on femoral neck bone strength. This
gain of bone strength may be due partly to an increased bone mass
and partly to an earlier maturation of the skeleton.
So in the end, it must be said. Weight lifting does not directly stunt the growth of adolescents. I welcome all of the other veterans of this forum to post information also proving that it does not stunt growth.