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Why youngsters should play multiple sports

Posted on 9th May 2018 by

With the end of season finally upon us for many of our most popular kids sports, we’re seeing a huge spike in the number of youngsters we’re seeing in the clinic with injuries. Unfortunately, many of the most common growth related injuries (Severs, Osgoods Schlatters, Sinding Larson etc.) affect the most active and sporty children at a time they are experiencing growth spurts. Although there is a part of this that we can’t control (growth!), what we are seeing increasingly contribute to the injuries these kids are presenting with is very frequent, intense participation in single sports. We also see this across a huge spectrum of sports, so football, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, dance & more!

Our sporting culture here in the UK (and many other countries too) is to ‘pigeon hole’ children into a single sport from a very early age. Before they know it, children are training / playing / competing / performing in a single sport 5 – 7 days a week! Unfortunately, much of this early specialisation in single sports is driven by the coaches and/or teams. Parents and children fear that if they don’t specialise and fully commit to a single sport they are risking their chance and future success.

The intentions of most parents, coaches and teams is well meaning – the more they train or practice for the sport, surely the better they’ll get and the higher the chances of ‘success’ (defining what success is is a whole other topic that won’t be covered here!).

However, all the evidence points towards the opposite being true – there are many benefits to playing multiple sports and risks to early specialisation in a single sport. The title image of this blog was recently published in the Sports Business Journal, why kids shouldn’t specialise in one sport is discussed here.

The benefits of playing multiple sports

  • Improved sporting performance – studies suggest playing multiple sports at a young age will actually enhance sporting performance in the long run
  • Between the crucial development ages of 6 – 12, playing multiple sports will enhance development of fundamental movement skills
  • Increased athleticism, strength and conditioning – playing a single sport can improve skill for that particular sport, but can limit overall athletic ability
  • Increase chance of developing a lifelong love of playing sport / exercising – if enjoyment, fun and variety are the focus, children are less likely to burnout
  • Develops a more creative athlete by exposure to many skills, situations and environments

The risks to early specialisation in sport

  • Injuries – repeated movement and demands placed upon developing bodies can increase risk of injury. The more movement variety youngsters have, the less risk they have go picking up an injury.
  • Burnout (see the great infographic below on how to prevent this).
  • Social isolation – commitment in hours to training, travel and competing can have an impact on a youngsters social life.
  • Early over-professionalisation – sport is seen in an adult, commercial context with winning being the main focus.

Burnout in young athletes

The crux of it is, for the majority of youngsters, taking part in sport is a way for children to develop well physically, have fun, enjoy activity with friends and importantly install lifelong love of being physically active to help them live a healthy life!

Unfortunately for many sports, naivety from the top won’t change things, it’s very shortsighted and their well-meaning intentions don’t actually have the health and wellbeing of children as a priority. However, sports such as Hockey, do give a glimmer of hope. Their Player Pathway is an excellent example of a great framework for specialisation.

  • They don’t identify ‘talent’ until players reach 12/13
  • Their over riding aim is to “provide fun, enjoyable, learning for every player”
  • They develop close links with local clubs and schools
  • They provide an extra 6-10 hours training a season for ‘talented’ players which then leads to a very structured pathway of progression
  • Children can continue playing for their local and/or school team

So, what’s the takeaways from this:

  • Evidence suggests that children should take part in multiple sports and avoid specialisation until they reach adolescence (around 13, The American Association of Paediatrics says 15)
  • Offer lot’s of opportunities to they different sports and activities whenever you can
  • The focus should be on fun and enjoyment
  • If they do get an injury, seek professional advice. That may need specific guidance on an exercise programme, training programme and activity modification to help them

You can read another great article on the subject here.

benefits of playing multiple sports for children

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goPhysio Joint Focus: Knee Pain in Adults

Posted on 8th February 2017 by

knee pain in adultsThe knee is the largest joint in the body. It is extremely mobile yet highly stable, allowing us to walk, jump and run.

It relies on both the stability of the pelvis above and the foot below for peak performance. If these become impaired, it’s ability to be stable yet mobile is compromised and injury often occurs. The knee is often injured during sporting activities, is prone to ‘wear & tear’ and a common problem in adolescents during or after growth spurts.


 

Common Knee Injuries

Many common injuries affect the knee, these include:

If you’re suffering with knee pain and it’s stopping you doing what you love or being as active as you need to be, our team can help you. We offer a range of services from our clinic in Chandlers Ford, which can help identify & resolve your knee problems and also address the prevention of knee injuries.

If you want any advice, please do give us a call on 023 8025 3317 or you can book an appointment online.


Growing Pains? Knee Pain in Kids and Teens

Posted on 27th September 2016 by

Growing pains?

Many children experience aches and pains as they grow which are typically written off as ‘growing pains’, told there is nothing that can be done and that they will ‘grow out of it’.

There is some truth to this; during a growth spurt the bones will lengthen first and then the muscles adapt and lengthen to keep up and there can be a period of discomfort around the joints whilst this happens.

However in young sporty children these ‘growing pains’ may well indicate a traction apophysistis (growth plate injury) that needs to be carefully managed to avoid long-term problems and ensure a quick return to sport.

What is a traction apophysitis?

This happens when the muscles are pulling on the growing part of the bone that hasn’t fully fused yet Osgoods Schlatters – like a rope pulling on cement that hasn’t hardened. If this area is overloaded by repeated, forceful muscle contractions, inflammation, pain and microtrauma to the growth plate will result.

This usually happens in very active sporty children who typically play 10+ hours of sport a week – especially kicking, sprinting and jumping activities like football, basketball and gymnastics. It always occurs during a growth spurt and is thought to affect around 20% of 9-16 year olds.

The main areas affected are the knee (Osgood-Schlatters disease) giving pain below the knee cap, or the ankle (Severs disease) giving pain above the back of the heel. Both conditions are associated with tightness of the muscles surrounding these joints pulling on their respective growth plates.

What can be done about it?

Rest, ice and anti-inflammatories can be helpful but most kids won’t want to wait months and months for their bones to stop growing before they return to sport, particularly if they are a budding athlete.

Will stretching help?

If the muscles are tight why don’t we just stretch them?

Well this actually pulls on the area where the muscle attaches to bone, potentially making it worse, not better!

So in response to this dilemma the Strickland protocol has been developed by a Physiotherapist to address the cause of the pain (tight muscles pulling on the growth plate) and to help guide return to sport and activity.

What is the Strickland Protocol?

The Strickland Protocol involves:

  • Applying a specific type of massage towards the insertion of the muscle to improve a muscle’s length and reduce its tightness, which reduces the pull on the tendon attachment – this needs to be done for a minimum of 2 minutes a day.
  • Once underlying tension is taken out of the muscle, helping it to catch up in length with the bone, the attachment site seems to repair in double quick time.
  • Once the child feels no pain in stretch position, we replace massage with stretches, safe in the knowledge that it should be able to cope with the loading of stretches.
  • Massage is continued in parallel with stretches to speed up process of elongation.
  • Rest from aggravating activities is essential – for a minimum of 3 weeks we recommend nothing more strenuous than walking, otherwise this delays healing substantially!
  • An important aspect is the involvement of the parent / guardian as the protocol cannot be done without their help & cooperation, as it will be them that performs massage on daily basis.
  • This is followed by sport-specific rehab and addressing a biomechanical or technique issues as we guide you back to sport.

Does it work?

YES! It has a 95% success rate in 3 weeks when correctly adhered to!

How can goPhysio help?

If your son or daughter is suffering with knee pain (or pain at their heel), you may have been to see your GP who has advised you that there is nothing that can be done, your child just needs to rest. However, we have found that by using this treatment protocol we can effectively help children get back to what they should be – running round, doing sports and having fun!

What we can do to help you and your child is assess the problem thoroughly to make sure we’re confident with the diagnosis. We will then advise you on the best course of action. The great part is that the treatment is pretty simple, with our guidance you can carry out the programme at home – we’re here to provide extra support and advise on progress as and when you need it.

We also offer a specialist Young Rehab service, which provides guided specific rehab programmes for kids, you can read more about this here.

 


What’s Physiotherapy got to do with a dripping tap?!

Posted on 2nd June 2016 by

 

Dripping tap and overuse injuriesI recently read a very interesting analogy about physiotherapy for overuse injuries and & a dripping tap! I thought it was an interesting way to look at physio and made real sense.

If you’ve got a dripping tap, you’ve got a couple of options.

Firstly you may put a bucket under the drip to collect the water or you can keep mopping it up. This is a great short term solution. The damage is contained and it doesn’t cost too much. But this isn’t great longer term. You’re just managing the problem without a long term solution. Like an injury, this is treating the symptoms of the problem.

But, as well as mopping up the leak, what you really need to do is find out why the tap is leaking and get it fixed, finding the cause of the problem and tackling it. Without doing this, you’ll be forever ‘mopping up’ and it will get pretty expensive with wasted water bills.

Overuse injuries can be looked at in a similar way. Pain is the dripping tap. You can take painkillers, you can rest – but this isn’t really tackling the problem of why you developed the injury in the first place. If all you’re doing is mopping up, you’re not actually fixing the leak. With overuse injuries, you need someone to look holistically at whats happening, identify the cause and offer solutions to rectify it and stop it happening again.

Overuse injuries occur because you’re doing something regularly and you body can’t cope with it, the demands you’re physically placing on your body are exceeding your body’s threshold to cope. So, if you’re suffering with an ongoing or long term overuse injury – do you want to be forever mopping up or do you want to get to the bottom of it and get it fixed? If you want a solution then give us a call. We get to the root of your problem, help relieve your symptoms but also address what’s really happening.