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4 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Knee and Foot Pain in Growing Athletes

A common complaint we hear from pre-adolescent and adolescent aged athletes is that their knees or feet are consistently sore or irritable.  A lot of time, these same athletes have been going through growth spurts.  Here are a few tips on how to properly manage or reduce the risk of knee and foot issues in the growing athlete.

1.  Stay flexible: When the bones are growing, the soft tissues need to adapt to this growth and stretching can assist in exposing the soft tissues to increasing tension/load from this excessive growth. Here are a few stretches that should be incorporated into a child’s daily activities whether it be gym class, their sports teams warm ups and cool downs, or just added to their general routine for the day.

2.  Proper footwear: As a child is growing, it is important to make sure they are wearing the proper shoe size.  If a child is wearing a shoe that is too big or too small for them, it can change the way they are walking and running, which could lead to unnecessary overuse irritation.

3.  Know when to rest: With the intensity of sports, kids may have every day of the week covered with a practice or game or both!  It is important to allow an athlete time to recover after prolonged loading/overuse in order to keep their growing tissues healthy and happy.  Note that both training and rest are needed to properly develop muscles so taking 1-2 days/week off from sports can actually improve performance.

4.  Get good sleep: Research shows that >8 hours of sleep not only aids in performance but can decrease the risk for injury.  Studies have also shown that children who get adequate amounts of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health.  Sleep is GOOD for you!

If you’d like more information on how to stay comfortable and healthy while growing, please contact Omaha Physical Therapy Institute!


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