Children experiencing growth spurts and playing sports regularly can experience an increase in the likelihood of injury. The good news is that with proper and timely diagnosis it is possible to help manage the impact of these injuries.

What is a growth spurt?

Bones grow quicker than muscles and tendons. When playing sports regularly it places a high demand on the muscles, which means they gradually tighten relative to the longer bones. Muscles get very inflexible and start tugging at their attachments to the bones. This may be seen as a bony lump and can cause pain or discomfort, interfering with the bone’s growth plates and leading to longer term effects.

What are the symptoms of a growth spurt?

There are particular conditions associated with growth spurts such as Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome, associated with knee pain, and Sever’s Disease, which manifests as a pain felt in the back of the heel. Children can also experience back pain, shoulder pain and any of the following: 

  • Tightness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Painful lumps or swelling in knees
  • Limping 

What can be done to manage the impact of a growth spurt?

We all know that children playing sports is a positive activity which should be encouraged. While a break from energetic activity may be necessary to prevent the worsening of an injury, there are some simple measures that can reduce the chance of an injury during growth spurts.

  • Ensure your child knows the proper techniques for the sport they’re playing
  • Provide them with correctly fitting protective and sports equipment
  • Reduce the intensity of training sessions
  • Reduce the duration or number of occasions sports are played each week
  • Include more non or low-impact training, such as swimming
  • Introduce stretching and core strengthening exercises

When treatment is needed

At Petersfield Physio we provide treatments specifically focused on the needs of children during growth spurts to support them fully with their recovery.  Treatments include:

  • Teaching a correct stretching regime and emphasising the importance of regular stretching, particularly during a growth spurt
  • Preventing excessive extension and relieving pain
  • Flexion exercises to counteract the painful movement
  • Ice and other pain-relieving treatment
  • Heel raises to offload the painful heel
  • An exercise programme to maintain movement and regain strength
  • Core strengthening exercises to support, strengthen and protect the back

We appreciate that your child wants to resume playing to their full potential as quickly as possible and we will be there to support them achieve this, including talking with coaches to ensure your child is managing the correct sport techniques.

Petersfield Physio

At Petersfield Physio we are here to support our clients every step of the way.

If you would like support to lead an active life and live in the Hampshire or Surrey areas, contact the Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic or ring 01730 267645. We are here to advise, guide and support you back to a pain free, active lifestyle.

After all, it’s a joint process.