While our kids are growing rapidly in their pre-teens and teens, their bodies change in many ways. They grow taller, their hips widen, their feet change, and they gain significant weight. All of these changes place new stresses on their musculoskeletal system which takes time to adapt.
For those who are active and sports oriented, these changes may cause “growing pains” making participation in their activities painful. More stress is added through increased intensity of activity as they begin to compete at higher levels of competition, leading to repetitive stress and overuse injuries. These injuries may include tendonitis, stress fractures, sprains and strains throughout the body. If not addressed, these problems can derail a sports season or become lifelong problems.
What To Look For…
As a parent, the best sign to look for is pain. Some muscle soreness is to be expected, especially at the beginning of a season. Soreness should subside quickly as the body gets used to the new workload. Pain in a specific joint is rare in healthy adolescents therefore, if their soreness increases or becomes painful, your child may have an injury. Local pain in a joint is frequently the sign of an injury. Common injuries in teens are chondromalacia patella (pain under the knee cap), Osgood Schlatters (pain just below the knee on the tibia), shin splints, stress fractures, and ankle sprains.
As a parent it is important to listen to the concerns of your child. “No pain, No gain” is not always true, and can be harmful. It is important to monitor training schedules and have breaks to recover between seasons and large tournaments. If problems do arise, have your child evaluated by a physician or physical therapist. Once a problem is identified solutions such as exercise training, stretching, or bracing can usually solve the problem and get your child back on the field safely.