Many children between the ages of 3 to 12 years old, experience what is known as growing pains. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms to avoid future injuries.
Growing pain occur in the earlier stages of growth, not during the rapid growth of puberty. In general, there is no specific injury, and the pain is in various joints and muscles of the limbs, usually knees and hips. Some signs of growing pains include:
- Pain on both sides of the body
- Pain typically at night and usually worse after a day with more activity
- Pain subsides by morning
With more children specializing in just one sport, we are seeing an increase in overuse injuries. These injuries can affect the athlete later on in their childhood and on into adulthood. We understand the pressure on children to get a scholarship and play on the elite levels, however there are studies that show that specializing in one sport in their early years doesn’t increase one’s chance to become and elite athlete. 88% of college athletes played more than one sport as children, and 70% didn’t focus solely on one sport until they were over the age of twelve.
Overuse injuries occur when you stress an area (or areas) of your body past its threshold. This typically happens with an increase in sport/activity, a change sport/activity, or ramping up too quickly with a new sport/activity. Typically, there is a specific location of pain when you suffer from an overuse injury.
When determining the cause of overuse, an increase in 3 factors, either in isolation or in combination, are looked at.
- Frequency—did the number of days per week change with that particular sport/activity?
- Intensity—did you change the intensity at which you performed the sport/activity?
- Duration—are you now spending more time per outing with the sport/activity?
Preparation is the key to preventing overuse injuries!
In order to reduce the risk of overuse injuries, make sure you give yourself adequate ramping-up time for your particular sport or activity. For example, if you are going to be running on the cross-country team in the fall, you should start training during the summer. Begin with walk/jog intervals at an easy pace and for short distances. Each week increase your intensity and distance by about 10%. Incorporate cross-training activities as well so that your total body strength and fitness can withstand the demand of the sport. By the time your season rolls around you will be prepared for the task at hand! This guideline for progression applies for all sports.
Here at Timberlane Physical Therapy we can develop a specific program of progression appropriate for your unique level of play and particular sport.
What happens if you do suffer from an overuse injury?
Treating an overuse injury requires a thorough evaluation to determine the root cause of the injury. Often times the area of pain and tissue damage is not necessarily the part of the body that caused the damage to occur. At Timberlane Physical Therapy we look at the whole picture so that we can not only relieve pain, but also find the underlying cause of your pain. Our goal is to correct the limitations and movement patterns so that you will return to your sport feeling more prepared and more confident in your physical abilities.