If your gangly adolescent suddenly seems clumsy, it’s not your imagination. Rapid growth spurts during puberty can cause balance problems and fast-growing bones that make them prone to injury, especially if they play sports.
Growth spurts are related to sports injuries in youths because as they grow, their bones tend to grow a little bit faster than the soft tissue — their ligaments and tendons.
This causes inflexibility and affects balance, she said. You can imagine trying to find your balance where every morning you wake up and you’re a little bit taller and a little different shape than you were the day before. That makes having good balance really difficult, which predisposes you to a lot of extra motion and extra muscle work when you’re active.
When a kid grows, bones get longer as they respond to special hormones in the body. Ligaments and tendons take longer to respond. Our bones grow longer, but the rubber bands that are stuck to it, the muscles and tendons, get tighter until they catch up.
During times of rapid growth the growth plates, areas of new bone growth, can get a little weaker because they increase in size with cartilage. This combined with the tightness can cause growth plate injuries or other injuries associated with rapid growth.
Overuse injuries are common with conditioning sports. With growth plate injuries, the most common are things like patellar tendonitis, which is basically where the patellar tendon inserts into the shin bone. Because of repetitive use, we get an inflammation in that area.
With Osgood-Schlatter disease, youths have pain at the front of the knee due to inflammation of the growth plate at the upper end of the shinbone.
It’s common to see growth-related injuries in knees, hips, feet and ankles in both sexes, Playing only one sport year-round without adequate rest or breaks throughout the year probably contributes to these types of injuries.
The general recommendation is that kids get at least one day off per week and about two months off per year, which can be broken up throughout the year. A way to protect yourself is to get adequate rest and to be involved in multiple sports so that you’re working and training your body in different ways.
Injury prevention is becoming more of a focus in sports medicine, Saldana said. For example, neuromuscular training can help improve mechanics in jumping and landing to help decrease injuries.
Seeing a professional is always a good idea. If you’re having chronic aches and pains that sneak up and are persistent in one spot, particularly rated related to an activity, the sooner we are able to address the underlying causes, the easier it will be for them to get better. The sooner you try to fix it, the easier it is to fix.
If your child is complaining of pain, call us today and book and appointment.
09 212 9612