Do Squats Affect Your Growth?

fitness woman doing barbell squats in a gym
A woman does squats with a barbell in a gym. (Image: chesterf/iStock/Getty Images)

Squatting increases your leg strength and power while burning fat. Like all forms of intense resistance training, the strain of squatting actually increases your bone strength, with no negative effects on growth. Good squatting power combined with solid technique can improve your speed, your vertical jump and your athletic ability in general. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any athletic training program.

Bone Structure

Squatting places stress on your joints, but this stress is primarily compressive in nature. Your skeleton tolerates this sort of stress well. The ends of your long bones have growth plates, and when they become injured, there is the slight risk of this injury interfering with the growth of that particular bone. The rarely occurs even under extreme loads.

Bone Density

Squatting improves your musculature, strength and even bone mineral density. Unless trained to the point of injury, your skeleton will strengthen, not weaken following resistance training. Adolescent females who participate in weight training increase their specific bone mineral density with no ill effects. The increase in bone density does not inhibit growth, and the bone-density increase reduces both the risk of injury and osteoporosis in later years.

Spinal Compression

The placement of the bar when squatting causes a certain degree of compression on the spine. Fortunately, your spine is far more able to tolerate compressive force than shearing force, so as long as you maintain proper posture, your risk of injury is minimal. Long-term squatting causes no documented ill effects to the spine. A study published in the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" examined the spine of a world-record holder in the squat. Not only was there no damage reported, but he displayed the highest bone mineral density recorded to date.

Benefits of Squatting

In addition to strengthening your skeleton, squatting improves your athletic ability. According to U. Wisloff et al. in an article published in the "British Journal of Sports Medicine," there is a direct correlation between squatting ability, vertical jumping ability and sprint times. Strong, powerful legs built through squatting keep you healthy and agile. For safety, never lose focus on technique. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, strong torso musculature is essential in protecting your spine during the squatting movement. Do not lift excessively heavy weights, and make certain you lift with your legs and hips, rather than your back.

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