Children suffering from low back pain or knee pain?? This will explain why……
I’ve had a lot of children in with me over the last few months with pains and aches from sports. On average these children are between the ages of 12 and 15 and one noticeable trait I see among this age group is the lack of flexibility.
Our society has children involved with every team and sport during the adolescent years so they can have a taste of all sports, in-order to find their preference.
The problem with this is their daily lives consist of getting up, going to school sitting for the morning, playing sport at lunch, sitting for another few hours, going home relaxing for an hour (sitting down) and playing sport again for 1-2 hours. This sedentary/intensity lifestyle on a daily basis can take it toll on a growing body.
Now, with each patient I treat I have yet to see them part take in a good recovery strategy involving stretching and/or a cool down. I am not taking away from the coaching staff who give up their free time to train these kids, they bring these kids together socially and them to form lifelong friendships with team mates, but unfortunately they are the ones responsible for getting the children into a good recovery routine. Otherwise they are bouncing from one sporting discipline to the next, 4-5 times a week, with maybe one day of rest during the week. This can go on for months for the school year, while the parents play a glorified taxi service.
All things considered, it is more important to have the kids out being active than staying in-doors, but some responsibility must be taken by the coaching staff to put in place a proper stretching routine for adolescent teens.
So what do I see clinically?
There is a clear difference between boys and girls
Girls present with knee pain predominantly and or hip pain. I can usually attribute the cause of this to a growth spurt, where by their muscles length has not caught up to their bone growth and they continue to train during the spurt.
This causes their muscles to compensate. Their hamstrings tighten up and inhibit their quads and there hip flexors tighten, due to poor posture, subsequently causing their glutes to inhibit (turn off). Functionally this puts a lot of strain on the knee and hips and up into the lumbar spine.
The golden rule of body functioning as one system under training load is, that if the muscles fatigue and are unable to cope with the training load, then their joints will compress to compensate causing pain.
Boys develop muscle faster than girls during adolescent, due to the increased hormones levels in this age group.
Therefore, boys do not suffer from muscle fatigue or weakness, but lack of mobility. This is due to the number of hard training session they complete each week without a proper recovery strategy.
Does this mean every child playing sport is going to suffer from this???
- Each body is different, and each body reacts differently to training load. Some children will suffer, some wont. But it’s important to use preventative measures to avoid pain, i.e. a recovery strategy.
Finally, what can we do to present these issues
For girls, I recommend working work on technique and skill of the chosen sport. This allows them to recruit the proper muscles for the sport. This makes them think about what their body is doing in each movement (improves neuromuscular control). Find a good running coach and ensure that they are running efficiently and complete a once weekly session of light strength work focusing on proper form during a squat and a lunge (weight on heels, bum down chest up)
For Boys, MOBILITY MOBILITY MOBILITY!!!!
Get them stretching, as much as possible to keep their bodies loose, mobile and flexible.
If you boy cannot touch his toes at during adolescents then it’s not down to genetics, it’s down to lack of flexibility due to his lifestyle.