Jason Cardy is a Graduate Sports Therapist and has a Level 4 VTCT in Sports Massage. He worked alongside Pro teams to further experience
Sports Massage Can Help Young Athletes Recover Faster
Avoid Overuse Injuries Where Possible Especially In The Young Athlete
As a young person you tend to participate in regular physical activity throughout the week more often than not. The constant physical demand placed on the body with little to no rest can lead to overuse injuries; this is defined as the repetitive submaximal loading of the musculoskeletal system without adequate rest to allow for sufficient adaptation to take place. Overuse injuries that are solely specific to the young athlete are apophyseal injuries; this refers to an injury of the growth plate. Here we talk about two common apophyseal injuries.
Osgood-Schlatters disease is the most common injury in boys aged 11-15, this is characterised by inflammation just below the knee cap. More often than not there is a bony lump apparent below the knee, that can be tender to touch. This disease tends to occur during growth spurts, bones and muscles grow at different rates leading to excessive tightness. This tightness then leads to a greater level of irritation surrounding the patella tendon insertion site.
The symptoms of this will follow a pattern; pain will increase during exercise and decrease with rest, there may be swelling around the knee, increased heat over the knee and there will be a distinctive lump below the knee.
To be diagnosed with this you need to see a specialist. From there, an action plan will be drawn up on how best to treat the child leading on from the diagnosis. Treatment will revolve around managing the child's weekly loading, flexibility exercises, strength exercises and the use of ice for pain relief following exercise.
Sever's disease is an injury that typically occurs in children aged 7-11, with the pain felt in the heel. It is thought that this pain is brought on from repetitive jumping and running, or more specifically, from the pull of the achilles on the growth plate. A specialist can accurately diagnose this problem.
To treat this, the specialist will use a variety of treatments and exercises. This will concentrate on the flexibility of the calf muscle, appropriate use of footwear for maximal support and the use of a heel cushion in the shoe for pain relief. Other than this, the child should be icing the heel for an analgesic effect (pain relief).
Osgood-Schlaters and Sever's disease are common injuries which can be treated successfully, with a visit to a qualified sports physio, who will work out the best form of treatment to reduce the pain and improve movement. A regular course of sports massage would be the best form of treatment, which will improve the young athletes physical condition. The young player may need to take a break from physical exercise should the sympton's be severe but, in most cases a reduction in physical activity should be enough to allow the pain to subside. In all cases it is highly recommended that regular use of ice and sports massage should see the athlete recover quite quickly.
How To Spot Early Signs Of Injury In Young Athletes
For a lot of young athletes the resources available to aid their progression in sport is lacking. More specifically, knowledge on prehabilitation or rehabilitation of an injury is non-existent. There are a few key areas that can be followed to try to, firstly, identify a young athlete that is more at risk of developing these diseases and secondly, what can be done to help once they are identified as higher risk.
To identify the young athlete as higher risk the coaches/parents should take careful consideration on the monitoring of three areas. By monitoring the young athletes height, foot length and their weight you can accurately track their growth spurts. when a trend in the data can be read, the presentation of rapid growth in the athlete can be spotted.
What should be done following the identification of rapid growth is as follows; firstly, reduce the young athletes weekly workload. This will successfully reduce the risk of the young athlete breaking down through overuse. Secondly, the implementation of a flexibility programme will be beneficial. If the athlete complains of any knee pain or any heel pain, let them rest. This will help allow the tissue to heal, continued exposure to activity will lead to a greater tissue injury, leading to more inflammation and eventually more pain. To help with the pain icing can also be used.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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