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Cross-training is when an athlete participates in training activities that are different from those of their main sport. This well-rounded exercise regimen is important because it builds strength and flexibility in muscles that the athlete might not use in their regular training. Adding in different activities such as jogging, biking, swimming and rowing can prevent repetitive injuries that come from practicing the same sport over and over. Cross-training can also prevent athletes from burnout or getting bored with their training.
Cross-training is important for children because their bodies are still growing. Children have bones and growth plates that are immature and more susceptible to injury than mature bones. While adults can train harder by adding miles and additional weight, there is a limit to what children can face without injury from overuse.
Injury to the growth plates can cause serious complications, such as shorter or crooked limbs and reoccurring injuries. When children are training, we must pay attention to the fact that their musculoskeletal systems are still developing and need the chance to rest, even more so than in adults. Cross-training allows their muscles a break, instead of falling victim to overuse.
Another reason to cross-train with children is to make them more well-rounded athletes. Your children may think they know what sport they want to specialize in, but giving them exposure to other activities might open their eyes to new opportunities.
Moderation and variety are both important, allowing kids to be safe and have fun!