Is your child overworked with sports? Take the right precautions to prevent injury and keep them healthy!

Posted on October 13, 2015. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Exercise, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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By Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Pressures to succeed are considerable where children are in multiple or select sports exercising and practicing at a fairly very high level, often 6-7 times weekly.  Every child’s body is by constitution, different, and some bodies are better suited and more adaptable for excessive exercise and muscle strain than others.  Whether it be practicing gymnastics at an elite level, working out as much as 30 hours per week or select soccer or football, the repetitive movements these children go through can begin to show on their bodies.  The trouble is that even though kids are still pliable, springy and flexible, their bodies are still growing and they still need to repair and recover.   When an individual works out and exercises, there’s always a little bit of breaking down the muscle, but then the body needs to repair itself.

Problems stem from when the demands exceed the re-cooperation.  It’s similar to taking money from the bank but not putting it back in, it’s always running on a deficit. This can be done for a while, but eventually, it needs to be paid back.

I’ve worked with many young athletes, one being a 15 year old, very talented and motivated soccer player with persistent back pain.  He had worked out so much with the same repetitive motions that finally his back gave.  His back just wouldn’t get better and it mystified a lot of people. What he had was a stress fracture on his spine.  In his case, he had to completely stop the sport for a while and then rehab it.  He eventually was able to get back to it and it fortunately wasn’t a “career ending” injury, but if he had kept on, it could’ve turned for the worse.

There’s a fine line between working and overworking.  What happens eventually is that in the early teens, those children who have worked so hard for years, start to show damage and stress patterns.  Kids are exuberant; they have a good repair capacity and if they overwork it, it’s a bit more forgiving because they are still growing.  They have growth hormone and testosterone so they’ll repair up to a point.

To fix this situation, 1st there’s evaluation.  Even kids can break.  They are not supposed to have long term pain but short term pains aren’t uncommon:  growing pains, strains & sprains, etc… But if they complain about the same area week after week, there’s most likely a problem there, possibly ligament or bone issue of some kind.  The 2nd thing to look for is crooked posture, not just the slouch, but one shoulder or one hip higher than the other.  Watch them walk and observe if one foot is out or in more than the other one.   Helping correct these things on a child may take a short amount of work, but once they’ve grown and had the issue for years, the work required to reverse it could be extensive.

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