Let’s review the five biggest exercise mistakes youngsters can make, along with some safe and effective alternatives. Kids pick up the latest fitness magazine and start training like their favorite athletes do, thinking they can be just like them if they push hard enough. Unfortunately, their bodies are usually not ready for this level of training, and they can easily develop abnormal patterns of muscle movement and function. These abnormal patterns inhibit athletic performance and, if left uncorrected, may cause permanent injury
Mistake #1: Starting Weight Training Too Soon. Although injuries can occur at any age, youngsters in their preteen and early teen years are particularly vulnerable, especially to vigorous, repetitive movement, because of the way their bones grow. Ligaments and tendons are also prone to irritation and tearing when muscles shorten, causing lack of mobility and stability. So, what is a safer and more effective way of getting stronger without weight training? The answer is so simple, yet so effective and easy to do anywhere: body-weight training, which is a fundamental way to build stamina, strength, power and speed.
Mistake #2: Ignoring Flexibility and Stretching: Lack of proper stretching before and after physical exercise is a primary cause of unnecessary injury. The body must be properly warmed up and primed for maximum physical performance and recovery. Without proper blood flow and joint lubrication, the risk of injury is drastically increased. The most effective stretching techniques for athletes of any age are called myofascial release and active isolated stretching. Myofascial release involves rolling muscles over a cylindrical foam tube to increase blood flow and tissue flexibility. Active stretching uses ropes or bands to elongate muscles and prevent over-lengthening and tearing.
Mistake #3: Overtraining. Hard training breaks you down and makes you weaker. Rest makes you stronger. Physiologic improvement only occurs during the rest period following hard training. If sufficient rest is not included in a training program, regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists, performance will decline. Ensuring adequate rest and recovery is the best way to avoid overtraining syndrome and its consequences. The longer the overtraining takes place, the more rest is required.
Mistake #4: Unsupervised Group Training. The biggest rage in gyms and sports performance facilities is to have a group of kids working out together under the direction of one trainer. Although this can be motivational and inspiring for the kids, not to mention financially successful for the trainer, it may foster injury and poor performance. Proper assessments must be done by the training facility to ensure that groups have a combination of equal fitness ability. It’s OK to be inspired to improve, but not at the expense of proper technique and training strategies. If your child exercises in a group setting make sure the trainer includes a “breakout routine” with one-on-one sessions to assess your child’s progress and share the results with you.
Mistake #5: Lack of Agility and Coordination Training. Agility training enhances the natural joint proprioceptors in ligaments, which give your body a sense of position. This is critical to ensure all the muscles of the body work together as a functioning unit, as opposed to working against each other. Coordination, the ability to move the arms, legs and other parts of the body smoothly and in unison, is another important element of proper exercise training. Without proper coordination and balance, children will perform more poorly in sports and increase their risk of injury due to an unnecessary