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Growing pains, no more?

Updated: May 22, 2020

FREE talk from our sponsors: Sports, Screens and Growing Children

19th November, 2019

The Growing Skeleton

Be aware: children are not young adults and their skeletal structure is different. Growth is at the end of bones and can lead to painful conditions such as Osgood-Schlatter, Sever's and Hypermobility.

Osgood-Schlatter is common in active girls 8-12 and active boys 10-14. It comes about as a result on repetitive pulling on the tendon attachment point. Treatment is icing when sore or after activity, painkillers if medically advised, reduction of activity, gentle stretches when not in pain.

Sever's affects the achillies tendon on the heel. Gradual onset, and can affect one or both heels. Similar age profile as Osgood Schlatters. Improves naturally over 12-24 months as growth slows. Helped by icing, gentle stretches when not in pain and reduced activity until better.

Hypermobility is the ability to move joints beyond the normal range of movement. sometimes and advantage, but if painful physio can help. Often associated with falls, soft tissue injuries, fatigue, joint and ligament pain. General fitness, exercise. Does not improve with age.

The Young Athlete

Impact sport can help with bone growth. Sport generally helps with concentration, teamwork, confidence, socialising etc. Generally two types of sport, 'Traumatic' (tackle, fall off bike etc), vs non-traumatic (over period of time, injuries that slowly come on).

Ways to treat - R.I.C.E - Rest 48 hours, Ice 20 mins, 4-8 times a day, Compress to reduce swelling, Elevate 6-10 inches above the heart

How do injuries happen?

  • Period of growth particularly in spurts

  • Change of technique

  • Changes in strength, flexibility, training volume, intensity and type of training

  • Balance and coordination, how people move

  • Capacity of tissue to adapt as people age

Important to mix sport including load-bearing and non-load-bearing types. If problems, a lot of physio is problem solving... Need to work out what the problem is before its possible to treat. May need monitoring.

Head, Neck, Shoulders

More and more static positions and bodies stiffening up. Effects on the skeleton normally seen in people of 40/50 now seen in 30s. Children caught up in this and by the time they get to retirement age they will be severely affected.

Spend 25 years building up calcium on the bones, stops at age 25 thereafter depletes. Need to build up a big calcium store by impact loads on bones equivalent to 50 times a day. If not active, calcium depletes quickly and leads to bone problems.

An adult head weighs as much as a 10-pin bowling ball and is balanced on the spine which is designed to balance straight up. If head is constantly forward it will pull the spine out of alignment. Sport helps to keep the head up but the increasing use of screens unbalances the body and progressive forces push the spine back and the neck forward. Some 20 yo now present with spine conditions similar to a 40 yo with a long curve of the back and a sharp back curve on the neck.

For a spine to form properly it needs to be doing different things. Common symptoms are neck and back pain, headaches, shoulder issues, trapped nerves, early spinal wear and tear. Driven by addiction to phones, gaming etc. Become completely engrossed and get into a habit loop. Need to cue a different habit.

Youngsters heading for a poor spine at old age, and as they are likely to live a long time the consequences of spending a long time in front of screens is quite dramatic. A desk screen is better than a laptop/tablet - top of head should be level with top of screen. Standing desks shown to be beneficial over standard sitting desk. Sitting is the new smoking.

Vegan/vegetarian diets can affect bone growth although it is possible to get calcium from other sources. Load bearing exercises important, jumping, weights, use of micro-movement in long bones of legs, arms etc. Cross-training useful.

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