Strength training for youngsters

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Bill Hartman is a Physical Therapist and the co-owner of IFast, which stands for Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. He’s trained to help people  successfully recover from injuries. But his passion is keeping adults and kids out of physical therapy in the first place. Recently, Bill spotted a need to help students who were already enrolled in sports programs. But weren’t getting proper training in building their strength.

“We want kids to lift weights,” says Hartman. “Because we know that it makes them stronger. It makes them effective and it helps them prevent injuries. But they need to be able to do that safely.”

So Hartman started a program called, “learn to lift.”  Students as young as seven or eight and as old as a young adult get proper training to get stronger and avoid pitfalls.

“One of the problems with teenagers is  the peer challenge that they face where it’s always about putting more weight on the bar,” says Hartman.

Strength training does make sense when you look at the numbers.  The nationwide children’s website says there are 20 million kids in organized youth programs in this country. Sports injuries are the second leading cause of er visits for kids.  And according to WebMD, 1.3 million kids were treated in emergency rooms for sports injuries. Including ankle, head, finger, knee and facial mishaps. Hartman also says parents shouldn’t confuse strength training with weightlifting, bodybuilding or powerlifting.  These kinds of activities are driven by competition.  They can also  put too much strain on young muscles and tendons.  For kids light resistance and controlled movements are best. Hartman says young children should actually  be running, jumping and climbing. Strength training can come a little later. And it will pay off, if it’s done right.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, if strength training is done properly, kids will experience greater muscle strength and endurance, and better sports performance. The child’s bones will get stronger, they’ll have a healthy blood pressure and  weight.  And they’ll have more confidence and self esteem.

“The key element,” says Hartman, “is to be productive and safe.”

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