Growing pains in younger athletes are common occurrences. Being able to recognize which aches and pains may be related to growing and which may be of concern, however, is not always that easy.
All kids are going to grow, and some grow more rapidly than others. A lot of development and growth happens from age 10 through high school. Some kids are early bloomers; some are late bloomers. No matter when a kid begins and ends his or her growth spurt, many of the aches and pains associated with growth can occur in the same general area.
Two common areas are the knee — specifically the area of the tibial tuberosity — and the heel of the foot. The tibial tuberosity is the spot located just below the knee joint where the patella tendon inserts itself onto the tibia. The area of the foot at the base of the heel is where the Achilles tendon inserts itself to the calcaneus bone.
The rate of growth and activity level can sometimes determine how much pain a young athlete might have with these growth spurts.
To put it into better perspective, a person can think of the patellar and Achilles tendons as rubber bands. When bones grow, these rubber bands stretch. When there is rapid growth, the bands can’t always grow or stretch as quickly as the bones do. Therefore, you get an increased amount of tension and pain in the areas where the muscle tendon attaches to the bone.
Now factor in activity level. In a young athlete who is playing a number of sports, these growing pains can become quite severe because of the extra stress placed on these two areas. A less active individual might not have as many aches and pains.
So how do you treat the minor aches and pains, and what can happen if they go untreated and continue to get worse?
The most conservative treatment for the general pains is simple: see The Podiatrist, rest, ice and stretching.
For active individuals, finding time to rest is extremely important. Having young athletes in activities every night of the week and on the weekends is a recipe for disaster. Young athletes need time to rest, especially if they are experiencing some general knee or heel pain because of growing.
If young athletes try to push through that pain, they can end up with more severe injuries – usually starting in the form of tendonitis. If the stress and tension become too great, an avulsion fracture can develop in those areas. Basically, the overstressed tendon will start to pull away from the bone and take some of the bone with it. This type of injury will really limit the person’s level of activity.
But really, it all comes down to being smart about it. Young athletes and parents of young athletes need to understand that rest is important and make sure rest days are exactly that.
Being smart and addressing the minor aches and pains with some early conservative treatment can make a huge difference in keeping a young athlete healthy while he or she is growing at a rapid rate.
See The Podiatrist for any of your foot problems.
Walking is the major achievement of kids this age and over the course of the year they’ll get much better at it.
As kids’ mobility improves, so does their ability to investigate where they couldn’t before. Once again, take a look around your home from a kid’s vantage point and update childproofing measures to keep pace with your child’s advancing skills.
How Is My Baby Moving?
Though some babies take their first steps before their first birthdays, most children learn to walk well in the months after they turn 1.
Kids who are learning to walk are called “toddlers” because that’s exactly what they do — they toddle, keeping their legs wide apart and seeming to hesitate between each step, jerking from side to side as they move one foot forward, then the next.
About 6 months after taking the first steps, toddlers develop a more mature gait, holding their hands at their sides (rather than out in front for balance) and moving with their feet closer together. They also tend to move their feet in a way that looks more like walking — moving from the heel to the toe.
During these months of practice, most toddlers take a few spills, but this is part of learning to walk. You can’t protect your youngster from every fall, but you can reduce the risk of injury by keeping exploration in areas with soft carpeted surfaces and away from sharp corners of furniture.
To get back up from a fall, toddlers often place their hands out in front, lift up their bottom, and then pull their feet under. It may not look very graceful, but it works.
After walking for a couple of months, your child will begin to feel more confident about walking and take on new challenges — such as picking up and carrying objects, moving while pulling a toy behind, and climbing stairs.
By the middle of the second year, your child may learn to run, start to kick a ball, and even attempt to throw a ball overhand. By 2 years, your child may jump in place.
As kids develop the ability to move, they’re also learning. You’ll notice that your child seems extremely interested in finding out how things work, so offer safe opportunities to do this.
Helping Your Child’s Development
Give your child lots of things to do and see in this new upright position. Take walks around your yard or through the neighborhood together or hold hands and climb up and down the stairs together. You can even make an obstacle course of pillows or boxes and encourage your child to walk, climb, and crawl through it. Buy a few balls for kicking and throwing.
Experts recommend that toddlers should:
accumulate at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity like playing on the playground, going for a walk, or being in a parent-and-child tumbling class
also have at least 1 hour of unstructured free play each day when they can explore and play with toys
not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except while they’re sleeping
have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for all of their activities
As their physical skills develop, toddlers also learn to use their hands more. Toys and objects that can encourage this include:
paper and crayons
simple stacking toys that kids can build up and knock down
When to Call The Podiatrist
Normal child development follows a certain pattern, and the skills that babies develop early are building blocks for later skills. But the time it takes for kids to develop them can vary widely.
See The Podiatrist if you child is having problems:
walk by 18 months
walk in a more mature pattern after several months of practice
walk any way but on the toes
climb stairs while holding on
Many parents underestimate the importance of their children seeing The Podiatrist regularly. Just as they see a dentist to keep their teeth and gums healthy, children should see The Podiatrist to ensure that their feet and ankles are developing normally. This is especially important for kids who play sports where lots of running or footwork is involved.
During a recent exam, an eight year old patient complained of heel pain, particularly after playing sports. It had worsened over the last few months, and her mother thought it might be plantar fasciitis. In fact, it was osteochondroses, also known as Sever’s disease. Simply put, this condition usually occurs in overactive children who have tight Achilles tendons. The pain results from the repetitive pulling of the tendon on the growth plate in the heel bone.
Treatment of Sever’s disease often consists of immobilization, anti-inflammatories, and stretching before and after activity. Orthotics or a heel pad will also help decrease the tension of the Achilles tendon on the heel. Spontaneous resolution occurs when the growth plate closes as the child grows.
Thankfully, we were able to diagnose the patient’s condition and treat it accordingly. She now has less pain and can prevent injury as she grows. Eventually, this pain will most likely go away on its own.
If you think your child has any foot problems, contact The Podiatrist.
The saying it take a village to raise a child may be true. We are here to help you care for your child’s feet and set a good example. Prevention is very important when it come to the health of your child, and this includes feet! Check out these ten tips for caring for feet
- Look carefully at your newborn’s feet. Lookout for abnormalities and make sure they get checked out and treated before they become a serious problem.
2. Lightly cover your baby’s feet- Allowing your baby to kick and move around encourage muscle development in the feet. Tight covers could slow development.
3. Let your toddler go shoeless- Going barefoot indoors is healthy especially as a child begins to walk
4. Watch for lingering toe-walking. Walking solely on the toes after age 2 could be a sign of more serious problems.
5. Cut toenails straight across. This helps avoid ingrown toenails.
6. Keep feet clean and dry. Clean, dry feet will help prevent infections.
7. Buy shoes that fit well. Kids feet should be every time shoes are purchased because they grow so quickly.
8. Prevention- Don’t allow your child to walk barefoot outdoors or in areas where sharp objects may be on the floor. This will prevent foreign objects from entering your child’s foot and causing pain and injury.
9. Cover Cuts- Wash and cover cuts until they have healed.
10. Set a Good Example- Take good care of your feet and your child should learn by example.
If you notice any abnormalities in your child’s feet, be sure to schedule an appointment with The Podiatrist.
Whether you take a leisurely jog or sprint to the finish line in a marathon, running is great exercise. In fact, running is one of the easiest and most popular sports among non-professional athletes.
Running offers many benefits, including improved cardiovascular and respiratory function, weight loss, reduced cholesterol and increased muscle and bone strength, as well as a healthier mental outlook. But with any sport or activity comes the risk of injury.
Runners of all levels are at risk for significant injuries to their hips, knees, legs, ankles and feet. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to avoid injury. By taking simple precautions and watching for signs of potential problems, individuals can prevent or minimize many injuries.
The majority of injuries are caused by excess — running too far, too fast or too often. In addition to strains and sprains, blisters and cramps, some of the more common injuries include:
· Hip and thigh injuries — Bursitis, stress fractures, and hamstring pulls or tears are typically caused by inflammation and strain from overexertion or
improper running techniques.
· Knee injuries — Patello-femoral syndrome, more commonly called “runner’s knee” is characterized by a dull ache or sharp pain under or around the kneecap and is often accompanied by a grinding sensation when the knee is bent then straightened. Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome can also produce inflammation and pain in and around the knee.
· Leg injuries — Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome is a cumulative but painful condition resulting from too much force being placed on
the shinbone (tibia) and surrounding tissues.
· Ankle injuries – Sprains vary in severity but typically result in pain, swelling and bruising. Achilles tendonitis is a painful inflammation in the back of the ankle, which if left untreated, can lead to a ruptured tendon.
· Foot injuries — Plantar fasciitis, which can cause sharp pain or a dull ache in the bottom of the foot near the heel or in the arch, is typically caused by poor foot structure, inadequate running shoes or a sudden increase in the distance run. Improper shoes and downhill running can also cause painful Runner’s toe.
The good news is that these injuries are treatable, but more importantly can be prevented or minimized by following some basic training guidelines and running techniques.
Some tips to help you
Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Running in worn out shoes is a prime cause of many injuries. Make sure to replace them when you’ve logged about 600 kms.
Stretch regularly before and after you run to avoid tightening of muscles. Be sure to include stretches for the hips, thigh, hamstring, calf and ankle, as well as the back.
Perform warm up exercises such as light jogging or sprinting prior to engaging in a full run.
Include cross training in your overall exercise regimen to help strengthen a wide range of muscles. Consider activities such as weight-training, swimming,
calisthenics or those exercises that use muscles in slightly different ways.
Avoid overtraining – and overexertion. Doing too much, too soon and too quickly can lead to injuries. A good approach for beginners may be to start with a
run/walk technique, alternating thirty seconds of running with thirty seconds of walking for about twenty to thirty minutes, three times a week. Gradually,
increase the length of running segments while keeping them at a manageable pace.
· Stay hydrated especially in warmer weather. Drink at least 1 ½ cups of water 10-15 minutes before running and every 20 minutes during.
· Run on smooth, even and softer surfaces whenever possible. For example, asphalt roads are a better choice than concrete sidewalks.
· Watch for the warning signs of injury. If you begin to experience pain or swelling, stop running and seek medical attention. Depending on the type and extent of injury, treatment may include RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation; taking anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin or ibuprofen); and taking time off from running.
– Seek professional advice from a Podiatrist if you are injured or have any concerns