We should all be encouraging our kids to be fit and active, participating in sports is one of the best ways to help our children develop.
But sometimes kids can do too much activity, resulting in avoidable injuries.
Yes, there is such a thing as too much sport and exercise, which can place an unnatural burden on children’s developing bones and joints resulting in common overuse injuries. As parents, its useful to be aware of the concept of ‘load management’ for your active kids.
We should stop and think regularly – just how much physical activity is my child doing? Is it all running? Does it involve a lot of jumping? Has my child been repeatedly complaining of pain in a particular location?
Kids bones are constantly growing, which occurs at locations called ‘growth plates’. Overuse injuries are more prevalent during growth spurts, usually around early adolescence, and often involve growth plate areas.
Common areas of overuse injuries and pain include the knee, patella (or knee cap) and heel, also known as Osgood-Schlater Disease (knee), Sinding-Larsen Syndrome (patella) or Sever’s disease (heel).
What can we do?
Well, it’s useful to maintain a healthy level of awareness about your child’s sporting load. Other simple practices include making sure your child warms up properly and specifically for any intense jumping / running sports; introducing the concept of stretching to your child; ensure correct fitting footwear; and above all, encouraging good nutrition that will support them during their growth and activity, whilst always aiming to maintain a healthy weight.
When an overuse injury occurs, often a child is not required to cease sport altogether, and may just need modification of some activities or training. The goal should always be to keep your child as active as possible whilst improving pain.
As always, your friendly local doctor can help you with assessing those concerning child aches and pains, and help determine if load could be a factor, and how to manage it safely.
This article was written by Dr. Ben Grant and published in the Western Suburbs Weekly, 2018.