Dumbbells are useful exercise equipment that you can incorporate into almost any workout routine. However, some people have grown to believe that exercising with dumbbells will stop young people from growing, especially if they are still in puberty. It’s time to tackle that question: do dumbbells stop height growth?
Do Dumbbells Stop Height Growth?
No. Dumbbells don’t stop height growth. There is no scientific evidence that proves dumbbells stop height growth. In fact, incorporating dumbbells in teenagers’ training programs have numerous benefits like:
- Increase in strength and bone strength index (BSI)
- A decrease in the risk of fracture and sports-related injuries
- Improves self-esteem and interest in fitness
The myth that dumbbells stop height growth has been spread globally among the health and fitness industry. Some have even lead far to believe that lifting weights above your shoulders will stop your height growth.
If lifting heavy weights does stop height growth then almost all children would have stopped growing. Kids who go to school everyday carry and lift bags full of books that can easily weigh around 10 kg or more.
Why People Believe Dumbbells Stop Height Growth
The myth of dumbbells affecting height growth came from concern over kids causing damage to their growth plates if they use dumbbells in exercises. This may have led people to believe that dumbbells do stop height growth.
According to sports nutritionist, Dr. Rob Raponi, the misconception of dumbbells stunting growth may originate from the fact that injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth. However, this is only the result of exercising with poor form, using weights that are too heavy, or a lack of guidance or supervision.
In fact, participation in almost any type of sports or recreational activity carries a risk of getting injured. 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures have been related to growth plates. If left, untreated, this may cause children to stop growing in height.
What Are Growth Plates?
Growth plates are the cartilaginous areas of growing tissues at the ends of long bones. These plates will develop into hardened bone when young teenagers reach physical maturity. They are softer during development which is why they are easily prone to damage.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NAMI) states that growth plates are the weakest part of a developing body. That’s why many people have led to believe that damaging your growth plates will stunt your growth. Therefore, they believe that physical intensive workouts like using dumbbells will also stop height growth.
Growth plates are also known as the epiphyseal plates. They are mostly responsible for deciding the future height during adolescence. These growth plate tissues continue to divide and regenerate during your adolescence.
How to Protect Your Growth Plates?
Injuries relating to growing growth plate tissues are known as growth plate fractures. According to NAMI, competitive sports like basketball and volleyball, are the cause of one-third of all growth plate fractures. Recreational activities such as biking and skiing account to 20 percent of all growth plate fractures.
In order to protect your growth plates while being active in sports and recreation at the same time, you should do some weight training that will help reduce the risk of these injuries. Make sure you have someone professional supervising you, so you have the right form and intensity.
Do Dumbbells Make You Shorter?
As stated above, dumbbells don’t affect height growth so it’s safe to say that it doesn’t also make you shorter. You should only be concerned if you are lifting weights improperly. Make sure you are in proper form and the load should be what your body can handle.
In fact, as you grow older the growth plates harden so it would be impossible for them to make you shorter because of injuries. Simply take a look at professional athletes like Lebron James, who do a lot of workouts and they don’t grow shorter at all.
Are Dumbbells Okay for Adolescents?
Many studies regarding weight training effects on growth have significantly stressed the importance of safety when doing workouts. That’s why some people may not recommend teenagers to use dumbbells for a workout.
Dumbbells are free weights that require a higher range of motion. Dumbbells would only increase the risk of injuries especially if you don’t know how to properly use one.
It could be better for adolescents to use machine weight equipment as an alternative to their training. If you really do use dumbbells, you should be under the supervision of a trained instructor. You should also lift lighter dumbbells that your body can handle.
Dumbbells stopping height growth is a myth. In fact, the main cause of stopped height growth may be more related to improper use of training exercises, bad form or weights that are too much for you to handle, leading to growth plate fractures.