Updated: May 25
Too often we see our children bounce straight back up after twisting a knee or colliding with an opponent at Saturday sport. It’s as if their rubber bodies are invincible and feel no pain. You’ll often hear parents say “My daughter hurt her knee at training during the
week but she really wanted to play so here we are!” .
As much as children are very pliable and adaptive, it is important to get injuries checked thoroughly by a professional prior to returning to sport, whether it be a contact sport or not. This is to rule out serious bone, ligament or tendon damage that can go unnoticed. Many common childhood injuries such as bruises, strains and sprains can mimic the same symptoms as more severe injuries like stress fractures, muscle tears, ligament ruptures and avulsion fractures.
This is particularly important for females entering puberty around age 9-12. The change in hormone levels has an effect of ligament laxity which puts them at higher risk of injury than their male peers. With an increase in sustaining injuries such as avulsion fractures, dislocations and multidirectional chronic instability, females who play change of direction sports such as AFL, netball, soccer and touch football are at particularly higher risk.
Children who seem particularly flexible or “double-jointed” may need to be assessed for a joint connective tissue condition called Joint Hypermobility. This condition can affect both males and females and alters the child’s ability to control movement. They may seem clumsy, fatigue quickly or slouch over furniture when asked to sit still for periods of time. This is another area that paediatric physiotherapy is able to address through play based physical therapy.
Seeing as we now know children aren’t miniature adults and their bodies are very quickly adapting and changing with their environment it is important to give them the best chance at adapting without limits or pain. If your troublesome knee was originally injured at an under 12s netball game and it has never been the same since, you’ll know what I'm talking about! As children, if we have pain or dysfunction impacting our day to day development it becomes the catalyst to other mechanical dysfunctions. It is important we iron out these injuries before they start to create more ongoing injuries and imbalances.
So with all of this being said, please...the next time your child injures themselves during sport or other physical activity, don't dismiss physiotherapy and the importance it has for little people and their growing 'robust' bodies, we are just a call away ;)