Sports Injuries in Young People
Physical activity plays a significant role in the health of a child. With high levels of physical activity when young having long-term health benefits. However, injuries in highly active children and adolescents can be more common.
We know from research that low-intensity sports can aid bone growth and development. Whereas constant high-intensity activities can have an adverse effect.
Statistics suggest that 3-11% of children and adolescents have sport related injuries every year. With the ratio of boys to girls almost double.
Why do these injuries occur?
• Effect of growth, as a child grows older and bones begin to mature, the risk of injury increases. In impact sports, the mismatch of size & weight of children of the same age is a common cause of injury. Also significant in children is that bone and soft tissue structures often show increased elasticity during a ‘growth phase’. At this time children can be at their most susceptible to injuries.
• Activity judgement, which includes; judging risk, execution of skills with the correct technique & decision making,
• Muscular imbalance, being stronger in one area or one side of the body than another can lead to poor technique, putting greater stress on some soft tissues or bones as well as affecting posture. This can lead to injury.
• Excessive loading, putting lots of weight or stress on the bones and joints, particularly through increased participation in high impact activities.
Just training in one sport?
One of the biggest issues with the early commitment to a particular sport in children is its effect on muscle balance & the child’s ability to grow into a young adult with good foundations for all different types of movement.
In adult elite runners’, commitment to one sport and consistent training can be beneficial. We tend to see a trend with this consistency. For example, they will run 50 miles a week, every week, and this leads to improvement in their times. Now applying this to children becomes trickier and dedicating to one particular sport needs adapting.
Recent research shows us that we shouldn’t just focus on one particular sport in childhood and actually, we should use different aspects of lots of sports. For example, a child who plays rugby for a club may want to also consider swimming once a week and doing some cycling because these will help him develop a more rounded muscular balance. Good muscle balance and solid foundations for movement developed in childhood can help to prevent injury.
Is your child overtraining?
Another factor which can lead to increased injury is overtraining. Rest is important, it allows our muscles time to heal and strengthen. Children & families can be very dedicated to their sport and training routines as they strive for improvement, and it’s important to get the balance right.
The impact on muscles and bones in load-bearing sports, e.g football, netball or hockey, requires us to have recovery time. Persistent loading can lead to joint problems or muscular strains if not managed well.
Rest doesn’t mean that your child has to stop altogether. Try building in days for a rested workout. A rested workout, or active recovery as you might hear it called, could mean that we only slightly elevate our heart rate and complete a low-intensity sport, such as swimming.
Is it just growing pains?
Every child grows at a different speed. Those children who experience pain either in joints or muscles may have their symptoms described as ‘growing pains’ and whilst some pain can be experienced during growth, we are able to understand if there may be anything underlying these symptoms and provide age-appropriate advice and therapy to reduce pain or provide a further diagnosis. We need to pay special attention to aches and pains that persist and not just put it down to ‘growing pains’.
With growth spurts, there is more often than not a general decrease in flexibility. Due to relative bone growth and through these periods, a stretching programme could be beneficial. Nutrition is something that should be maintained and to a good level, making sure this is balanced. This can have a huge impact on bone density or muscle recovery.
How could physiotherapy with PT Kids help?
If you feel that any of the above advice is relatable to symptoms your child may be experiencing or their training pattern concerns you, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
We assess and treat children of all ages & we are experts in childhood development. This ensures we are best placed to understand what stage of growth your child is in and how this affects their body systems.
Children are not just ‘miniature’ adults and should not be treated as such. There are also a number of conditions which are common in childhood that do not typically affect adults. Our team specialise only in the treatment of children. So you can be safe in the knowledge that we understand your child’s needs.
Perhaps your child is at a high level of a sport and needs that little bit of adaptive training/strengthening to take them to the next level, or injuries are starting to become more recurrent. The physiotherapists at PT Kids are great at preventative exercise programmes and injury rehab. We offer a mobile service and can come to visit you at home, or with permissions at your sports club or gym. We are based in Branton, Doncaster but we cover a large area and are happy to travel to you. So if you are looking for sports injury physiotherapy for children in Harrogate or the surrounding area get in touch.