There have been concerns lately about whether or not squats affect and destroy growth plates that results to stunted growth or height loss. This is a legitimate question that deserves proper answers. If you are wondering, do squats make you shorter? Here are the facts that you need to know.
Understanding Physeal Closure
The controversy about squats adversely affecting a child or young adults' height development is nothing new. For some reason, people tend to think lifting weights and squats only result to loss of muscle mass and bone shrinkage. Fair enough reason for parents to be concerned.
The truth, however, is not as bad as people campaigning against squats make it seem. According to studies, weightlifters who lift heavy weights do have the tendency to be shorter for only a period of time.
The reduction is only about an inch or less. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that shows squats and heavy weights permanently impede the growth of younger people.
What the rumors tend to disqualify is the fact that children and young adults are still in the growth spurt period and haven't reached the physeal closure just yet. This means the physis or that part of bone that is responsible for lengthening is still in the process of development.
As a result, the physis is moderately week, which makes it susceptible to damages more quickly than other bones that have reached maturity.
Scientists have agreed that squats and lifting weights do not suspend vertical growth. However, they do warn adults and parents of children who lift weights and squats that damaging your physis can result to injury and impaired growth of the bones.
Despite these endorsements, there is no medical literature that has conclusive results on whether squats are safe or not. However, a study from University of Pennsylvania surveyed 500 sports medicine experts if it is safe for young adults to pursue strength training.
The result was a consensus that strength training is safe even for individuals whose skeletons have not yet matured. Although data also suggests a properly supervised weight training program significantly help reduce the risk of acute injury.
The Effects of Squats to your Body
Squatting not only burns fats. It also helps strengthen your legs and bones. When done properly, good squatting can improve your athletic ability, vertical jump, and speed.
As mentioned earlier, there are no conclusive evidences that suggest squats and weight training can damage your bones or directly affect your growth in the long term. However, it is a generally healthier practice to consult a healthcare practitioner before you begin your training.
Aside from your legs, squats also help strengthen your core thereby improving your brain to muscle communication by strengthening weak stabilizer muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments. This prevents falls, the number one cause of bone fractures.
Squats tone your legs, backside, abs, and basically your entire body. One benefit it has however, that not a lot of people associate it with is its capacity to help eliminate waste from your system.
This process is possible due to squats' capacity to pump off body fluids that aid in the distribution of nutrients to glands and organs. They also aid in the movement of feces from the colon, which results to regular bowel movement.
Proper Ways to Do Squats
While there is a consensus that squats are safe for children and adults alike, it is still highly recommended to have properly supervised weight training programs. In fact, any physical activity has adverse results if done the wrong way.
Whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced, safe squats techniques should follow these tips.
- Begin with a warm up
- In standing position, align your feet distance with the width of your shoulders
- Keep your back neutral and knees centered
- Slowly bend your knees to a 90 degree angle, hips and ankles aligned. Breathe in
- Breathe out as you return to starting position. Repeat 15-20 times more. Do this exercise 2-3 times a week
For more tips on how to do squats properly, this book by Linda Westwood is a good guide to get you started.
To Sum Up...
Squatting offers great benefits to everyone. However, it needs to be done with utmost care and precaution. For adults, consulting your health care specialist should be a priority especially if you have existing health conditions.
For parents whose child is interested in this activity, consulting a health care provider is also a priority as well as your constant support and guidance.Do you have stories to share that may help shed light to this discussion?
Leave your comments and stories below to help others make the most out of this form of exercise.