The Danger Of Overtraining In Youths – Ages 12 To 17


Exercise has always been popular. As a society, we go through different trends, fads, and industry game changers but the underlying message has always been that we need to stay fit to stay healthy. 

Not all trends are good so it’s essential to research what you’re getting your body into. Education is key when it comes to training; this is not often realised until it’s too late. Something today’s young people are learning all too well. 

Social media can be a great place but it is not filtered appropriately especially when it comes to influencing young people and their fitness habits. We see bodybuilders lifting heavy and we want to do the same. An adult may realise this will take time but for youths, it is often a race against time, they want it now and social media makes them feel like that’s possible. 

There is no longer a period of gain, our young adults want instant gratification. However, this can only be achieved at your body’s expense. 

Overtraining In Teens 

Overtraining in teens is something we see quite a lot here at Be Well Physio. They will often try to copy exercises from social media or from older gym goers. Lifting heavier than they can handle and with poor technique is a recipe for disaster. 

Signs of overtraining can present as fatigue, stress, and mood changes. Common physical symptoms of overtraining are back pain, shoulder pain, heel pain (Sever’s Disease) and knee pain (Osgood Schlatter’s Disease).

Why Is Overtraining Dangerous? 

Overtraining at a young age can result in future physical and potentially mental problems. If you badly damage a joint or part of your spine this may never fully recover leading to poor development later on.

Though some of the pressure comes from social media if a young person’s circle of friends trains regularly it can make them feel like they must keep up. If their friends are lifting heavier, they may try to do the same even if they’re not ready. 

Pressure can also come from older successful sportspeople who are performing at a higher level. Young promising athletes tend to play more than one sport and as such overdo activity levels. They will also be in demand to play for multiple teams in multiple age categories leaving them exposed to different levels of athleticism. 

How To Prevent Overtraining 

If you are an active young person or the parent of one it is advised only to play three to four sporting games (including training) per week. This can be difficult especially when the child and coaches want them to compete, but it is best to avoid repetitive strain on a young body.

Remember it is also important to incorporate non-competitive play with friends. This should be encouraged as part of a child’s normal social development and should not be compromised for competitive sports. It’s all about balancing rest and recovery with load and activity.

Easing into workouts and having a plan that suits a teen’s body type is vital. Watching a YouTube video on how to lift is not the same as getting tailored advice – one size never fits all in this industry. In the long run, training at your own pace will ensure a healthier physique and more solid progression.