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Young woman building strength at the gym.

Exercise: Building Strength from Weakness

For many young athletes, the idea of being strong has been preached by coaches and mentors as a key part to becoming a competitor. With role models like Serena Williams dominating the tennis scene and Derrick Henry stiff-arming defenders and breaking tackles in the NFL, it is easy to buy into that ideology. There is no doubt that, for many athletes, strength has played a major part in their success. However, when applying strength training to your own routine, it is important to remember the foundation of this training: the elimination of weaknesses.

A very common problem seen in young athletes is an imbalance of strength. Whether that is between dominant and non-dominant sides or front to back, one side tends to be stronger than the other. Asymmetries can lead to compensatory motions and a change in your normal mechanics. Targeting these imbalances through training can help reduce your risk of injury as well as improving performance. Being well-balanced has been proven to help keep athletes healthy and in the game. A 2018 study of professional football players showed that athletes with stronger quadriceps and weaker hamstrings had a higher occurrence of hamstring muscle injuries than those who were more balanced.

In order to be balanced, you have to look at how you train. There are some very basic ways to begin working towards muscular symmetry.

  • For every “pushing” motion exercise, do a “pull” as well.
  • Exercise your whole body, not just one body part.
  • Do not shy away from exercises that are difficult. Instead, take on the challenge of getting stronger.
  • It is really easy to focus on those muscles visible in the mirror because you can see the change as you train. But as you focus on your weak areas, you will be able to feel the change when you compete.

CHKD has a team of exercise specialists that can help turn your weaknesses into strengths. To schedule an evaluation and get started with correcting imbalances, reach out to CHKD’s fitness program supervisor, Julius Delbridge, at (757) 668-6654.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.