People often ask when kids should start lifting weights and that’s a complicated answer that has a lot of variables in it. When should my child start exercising is a really easy question to answer though. The answer is now. There is a misconception that exercising always means lifting weights. Although weights can be a VERY useful tool, the real goal is refining movement and there’s no time where that isn’t useful.
For girls, this is especially true, since they are much more likely to get injured in their lifetime due to poor movement mechanics. It’s not because women are less coordinated or play riskier sports, it’s due to the way their knees connect to their hips.
Due to this Q Angle (see dotted line in the above diagram) being greater in women than in men, they are already prone to having their knees cave in. Women generally have wider hips, as you can see this affects how the knees connect to the hips. This leads to issues with jumping and squatting, but is especially dangerous when they land or decelerate.
This is why the incidence of non-contact ACL injuries is so much greater in women than in men. Without proper practice, it is unlikely to change naturally, so something needs to be done.
- Mindful Movement. Have your daughter focus on keeping the knees out while doing squatting, jumping and landing movements. Teaching them the proper position slowly will help it apply to moving faster. These are the basics. These are slow and easily controlled. Start here.
- Challenge the Movement. Once you see that she can keep her knees spread on a squat, challenge it with additional weight. A goblet squat is a great option here. Another option is to challenge with bands that are forcing the knees to cave in. This will provide an easy cue to push out and will also strengthen the muscles of the hips that need keep the knees from caving in. This is a suitable progression and mastery here should be seen before it can be reliably put to the test in athletic situations.
- Force Absorption. The greatest force your athletic daughter will be forced to deal with isn’t the additional weight of the goblet squat or band tension, it is the force when they are dealing with a quick deceleration. Athletes spend a lot of time practicing running and jumping, but very little time is usually spent on stopping and landing. Work with your daughter on absorbing these forces well on sprints that have a defined stop point with proper deceleration and use box jumps, depth jumps and broad jumps to make sure that as your daughter lands she is landing with her knees in line or outside of her feet.
- Or just sign up for our kids class. It’s every day after school at 4 and we’ll work on these things.
Work on these things with your daughter. Help her to stay healthy and happy and strong and injury free. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.