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How can my child avoid the pitfalls of pre-season training?

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How can my child avoid the pitfalls of pre-season training?

Jane Lawler

We are well and truly into the new school year and the talk of winter pre-season training is ramping up. At Junction Foot and Ankle Group we’ve been inundated with younger patients suffering from overuse injuries which can be quite painful and distressing for your young athlete.

Many parents who bring their children in for treatment are worried their child may have permanent damage, due to their pain and suffering.

When you think about it, your child has come off the back of a lazy Summer period, where they have been relaxing at the beach or around the pool, eating you out of house and home and growing like weeds. All of a sudden, they get the call to front up to pre-season training and the coaches are often salivating to whip them back into shape.

To understand what is happening we need to unpack the relationship between training and children a bit more.

Training Load
Load is the term we use for the amount of activity performed. Risk of injury increases with quite small changes in load. A recent high-quality review paper (Windt, J & Gabbett, T, 2017) reinforced the traditional view that when weekly load changes by 10-15% there is a significant increase in injury risk.

Children
Children typically have two growth spurts. When this occurs their bones grow rapidly, the soft tissues around those bones adapt and lengthen over the next couple of months. While the soft tissues are catching up, they are under slightly more stress.
The perfect storm happens when kids start pre-season training after a summer of inactivity whilst undergoing a growth spurt. The two most common injuries in this situation are:

  • Sever’s disease – or heel pain in kids, and

  • Osgood Schlatter’s disease – or knee pain in kids

Both these conditions are the same problem occurring in different locations. Despite their scary name, they are definitely not diseases.

If you have a budding athlete who is limping around, come and see us at Junction Foot and Ankle Group. Pre-season training is not causing permanent damage, but it can make exercise and sport painful and unenjoyable. There is no need for your little athlete to suffer.