Children are not little adults
Sometimes we fall into this misconception believing that children can tolerate training loads equivalent to that of their peers and that their injuries respond the same to load and treatment. This however is not the case; the growing body responds significantly differently to adults and presentation of injuries are much different.
We all want our children to be fit and active, to aspire to be the new Richie McCaw or Lisa Carrington. We want them ‘out there doing it’, training, playing and having fun. But sometimes we forget about the ‘play’ and ‘having fun’ and focus more on training from a young age, something of which research has shown can lead to burnout and limited fundamental movement skill development. In clinic we sometimes hear of children training for more hours in a week, than a professional Ironman triathlete (and let’s not forget about school too).
At Body In Motion some of our physiotherapists have completed postgraduate studies into the management of youth and adolescent injuries. In clinic we acknowledge the differences between adults and the growing skeleton and are able to assess and treat the young athlete taking into account age, maturity, training age, training load and numerous other factors which make the young athlete unique.
Ali Wilson takes particular interest in this area and has worked closely with Netball Sportmart, ACC Injury Prevention and AIMS Games to help reduce and understand youth injuries and prevention strategies. With ACC seeing a rise in youth and adolescent injuries and investing heavily in injury prevention through the ACC SportSmart, now is a perfect time to start treating young athletes as individuals and not little adults. So why are injuries on the rise?
We believe (alongside latest research) that there are a number of reasons which may account for this:
- Young athletes being treated like ‘little adults’. The growing skeleton responds to load in a different way to that of adults which make it susceptible to injury to
- Increased involvement in organised sport and training from an early age.
- Early specialisation in a sport or a specific team position.
- Reduction of time playing ‘backyard sport’, climbing trees, playing around with your mates, learning fundamental movement patterns.
- Earlier involvement in representative teams & talent squads with the focus on being the ‘best’.
- Big increase in overall training hours. Kids training 20 hours + is not unusual in some sports.
How we can help:
• Early recognition and accurate diagnosis of youth specific injuries.
• Early and appropriate treatment and management of both traumatic and chronic overuse conditions.
• Education & advice on appropriate training loads, warm ups, self- help techniques.
• Timely referral to our network of sports physicians and orthopaedic specialists if appropriate
• Identifying and training fundamental movement patterns to help develop skill acquisition
• Educating and advising parents, peers and coaches.