When children return to school and change from relaxed holidays to regular school sports, we typically see certain patterns of injury.
The muscle soreness from unaccustomed activities is something most people will cope with but children going through growth spurts are more susceptible to specific types of injury. The combination of muscle tightness from activity and stretching of the muscles, nerves and tendons from bone growth leads to a familiar pattern of problems at the knee and heel in particular.
Osgood Schlatter’s disease and Sever’s disease are not truly ‘diseases’ but a stress on the growth plate where tendons attach to bone at the heel and below of the kneecap. Tension on the nerves in the area causes pain and sensitivity.
Girls tend to enter their growth spurts slightly earlier than boys, starting around age ten and peaking at twelve. Boys typically start their spurts around age twelve with a maximum growth rate at fourteen. Children who are heavily involved in sport and going through fast growth spurts will be at greater risk of injury.
It is quite easy to monitor height using a doorframe at home and measuring the height on a monthly basis, but loss of flexibility is another sign. The formerly easy task of touching their toes becomes more of a challenge. These children need to spend more time stretching after sport for recovery and may need a reduction in their sporting activity. The sudden increase in height can also lead to a temporary reduction in coordination and children can be more at risk of twisting injuries of knees and ankles during this phase.
If they become symptomatic, we have an active way of managing this at Sportswise and rarely have to stop sport completely. Children generally will return to full activity within a few weeks of starting treatment. Children also need more nutrients during growth spurts and often have increased appetites – raiding the fridge! It’s good to provide them with plenty of healthy snacks that can be taken soon after completing activities.
The Sportswise team are very experienced at managing growth related problems and if you have concerns over your child’s health during this phase, we would be happy to help.