Growing children and exercise; how much is too much?
Youth sports programs are very popular, with travel programs that include popular sports such as basketball, gymnastics, running, soccer and swimming. Many of these sports require grueling training regimens as the children progress into the later grades and the sports become more competitive.
In our practice, we see many young athletes competing and becoming injured. Recently, a young swimmer who wanted to compete so badly injured her shoulder and it was necessary to give her forced rest, to prevent damage to the joint. Unfortunately, she decided to tough it out and swim through the pain which is sometimes necessary but never a good idea. She also mentioned to us that others on her team are on the injured list due to the demands of their training.
We also see this in baseball and other sports with increasing frequency. How much is too much and why is it that some children get injured while others have few if any problems? The answer lies in body mechanics which are inherited and knowing when to go for help and when to give your body a chance to recuperate.
Since our children are not professionals, and their careers do not depend on the next event, it is a good idea to have their problems checked out before the damage occurs. If the problem is one of overuse (although to be fair, why is it overuse for some and not for others training the same way) or perhaps, misunderstanding what the pain means, you owe it to your children to see the right professional to help them stay competitive and pain-free.
Of course, there are many options for whom to see, and many see the pediatrician and the orthopedic, however, their training is limited in the musculoskeletal system and they are likely to look at where the pain is, rather than why the pain exists. If your child is having pain resulting from sports, you need to ask yourself or the professional you are seeing why?
Depending on their point of view, you may find that the best professional is the one who looks at their entire body and how they use it, rather than just the area that hurts which is often just a symptom. For many people, a certified sports chiropractor is becoming they’re go-to professional for primary care of their musculoskeletal system, because of the way they diagnose and then treat the problem. Often, this is one-stop shopping instead of one professional referring to another who refers to another. Of course, if the problem is more serious, or requires a less conservative option, the chiropractor will refer them. Fortunately, more serious problems are rare and the chiropractor can be the most efficient and cost-effective way to get relief.
With regards to running, which is something present in practically all sports, a recent article discusses some of the concerns as growing children run longer distances than ever before. Check out this great article that discusses the problem here
How Far Is Too Far For Kids to Run?
For out-of-shape kids, inadequate physical activity—a leading risk factor for mortality across all ages, according to the World Health Organization—can have lasting ramifications for future health. All over the world, researchers are finding significant annual declines in cardiovascular fitness among adolescents. As a whole, today’s youth are spending less time than generations past on stickball, tag, and other types of free play and exercise, such as walking or bicycling, and more time with computers and smartphones. As a result, after-school activities such as organized sports now provide the majority of physical activity for growing children.
But as the rate of childhood obesity continues to rise and the general aerobic fitness of children and adolescents continues to fall, another trend has emerged: Many of the children that still play sports often do so in excess. While a great deal of attention has been devoted to the demanding year-round format of competitive youth baseball and soccer, an increasing number of young athletes are also training for and competing in long-distance endurance events. These young athletes are doing more than kids’ “fun runs” and 5K’s—they’re running marathons and Olympic-distance triathlons. Notably, the Students Run Los Angeles marathon-training program had more than 16,000 young marathon finishers between 1987 and 2005.