Can weightlifting stunt growth? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Can weightlifting stunt growth?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Proper weightlifting cannot stunt your growth.
  • If you damage your growth plates during any activity you can negatively affect your natural growth.
  • Other factors that can stunt your growth include a lack of exercise and proper nutrition and a lack of sleep.

Weightlifting is a completely safe way to strengthen your bones and increase your health.

However, it needs to be done properly in order to reduce the risk of injury.

While proper weightlifting cannot stunt your growth, if you damage your growth plates during any activity you can negatively affect your natural growth.

Anything in life can pose a hazard, especially if it is done incorrectly.

That is why proper technique is so important when doing any form of exercise, especially weightlifting.

However, weight training is safer on your growth plates than any other number of common youth sports, such as soccer or football.

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How Does Weightlifting Negatively Affect Your Growth?

There are no negative consequences of weight training unless you use improper techniques. Improper techniques can lead to injuries, ranging from mild to severe.

However, unless you actually drop a weight on your growth plate, weightlifting will not impair your growth.

Growth plates are found at the ends of the bones in children and adolescents. The function of a growth plate is to determine the size of the bone.

Because the bones grow around the growth plate, the growth plates are the last of the bones to harden. This makes them more vulnerable to fractures and breaks.

If you damage your growth plate you can alter the length of the bone to which it is attached. This can cause an imbalance in the length of your bones, perhaps making one leg shorter than the other.

However, in order to stunt your growth, you would need to seriously damage the growth plates to where the bone is almost prohibited from forming correctly.

The only way to stunt your growth by weight training is if the weights make a hard impact against any of your growth plates. Since this is a rare possibility, chances are you are completely safe weightlifting. However, you do need to follow precautions and proper technique at all times to ensure maximum safety.

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What Activities Other Than Weightlifting Can Stunt Your Growth?

Basically, any activity that risks damage to the growth plates can stunt your growth. Since the growth plates are relatively soft, they are more susceptible to breaks. That is why certain sports, such as soccer, football, and even rollerblading are more dangerous than weightlifting.

If your ankles or knees take a hard enough hit to damage the growth plate, your bones may not form correctly. If they are not given the chance to grow to the originally intended length, then your growth can be stunted.

Other factors that can stunt your growth include a lack of exercise and proper nutrition, a lack of sleep, and massive amounts of caffeine. The effects of caffeine on childhood growth is still in debate, but in low doses, it is considered to be relatively safe.

If Weightlifting Doesn’t Stunt Your Growth, Can It Enhance It?

There is no scientific evidence that weightlifting can help you grow. If your bones have already fused together then you are at your maximum height. However, as you are growing you can do stretching exercises to help elongate your skeletal structure. This will not give you substantial height, however, since your overall height is predetermined by your growth plates.

Sleeping in the proper posture and getting plenty of rest, especially in your growing years, can help you gain the full potential from your growth plates. Once you are fully grown you will not be able to alter your height. In fact, as you get older your bones will begin to shrink and you will end up getting shorter.

Shrinking as you age is common and is caused by a number of factors, such as osteoporosis and the way your cartilage gets compacted over the years. The loss of muscle and fat is another factor. However, the overall amount that a person shrinks as they age is only a couple of inches.

In fact, you already shrink every day during the day, even when you’re young. Gravity actually causes you to lose some of the water from your discs, causing the cushions to compress and bring your spinal bones closer together. When you lay down gravity stops compressing your discs so, your discs return to normal and by morning your body has returned to its full height.

Even though you can’t elongate your height by any true concrete means, you can perform stretching exercises and yoga practice to lengthen your muscles and do weight training to strengthen your muscles. Maintain good posture throughout the day and night and hold your head high to always be your tallest.

Make sure you practice safety when you are weightlifting so that you don’t stunt your growth by hurting your growth plates.

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