4 Ways Strength Training Can Help Young Athletes Recover After an Injury

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strength training
Allison Gilmore, MD

Strength training, resistance training, weight training … no matter what you call it, working your muscles with resistance is an important component of an exercise program. This form of physical activity forces muscles to work harder. And there are many strength-training benefits for children -- especially those recovering from sports injuries.

Get Back To (And Stay In) The Game

As you are thinking about treatment options after a sports injury, Allison Gilmore, MD, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, outlines four ways resistance training can help your young athlete recover from a injury and/or prevent a new injury:

  1. Speeds up recovery after an injury. Most sports injuries require a period of immobilization or non-weight bearing. During that time, muscles tend to atrophy. To return to full activity as quickly as possible, resistance training is essential to building up lost muscle mass.
  2. Increases muscle mass and bone density. Muscles protect bone by taking some of the force generated in impact activities. Weak or atrophied muscles can lead to a loss of bone density. And a regular weight-training program builds up muscle mass to protect bones and increases bone density, too.
  3. Boosts athletic performance. A well-designed and supervised program that includes high-intensity resistance training, aerobic exercise and weight training will improve muscular strength, agility, balance, stability, coordination and overall speed.
  4. Reduces the risk for another injury. Since so many young athletes are playing a single sport year-round, the risk of overuse injuries is significantly greater. A well-designed training program can aid in preventing overuse injuries.

The best part is that many strength-training exercises can be done at home. That's because there are a variety of strengthening exercises that use the body’s own resistance. Here are some that your young athlete can try at home:

  • Squats, especially one-legged squats
  • Lunges
  • Box jumps
  • Straight leg raises
  • Burpees
  • Wall sits
  • Crunches
  • Push-ups
  • Planks

Related links

UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital has a team of pediatric sports medicine experts dedicated to treating and preventing sports-related injuries in young athletes. Learn more at Rainbow.org/SportsMedicine.

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