Childhood Sports Physiotherapy

Participating in sports extends beyond keeping children physically fit. It also helps develop social skills, to work as a team, aids in the regulation of emotions to perform under pressure and enhances self-esteem along with other health benefits. However, participation in sports has its risks and raises concerns for the safety of the child, as it is the leading cause of injuries within the paediatric population. Children are potentially at a vulnerable risk of sporting injuries due to their physical and physiological processes of growth and development. Additionally, children or adolescents who undergo a rapid increase in sporting demands (intensity, duration, and frequency) are at an increased risk to overload/overuse injuries.

Sporting injuries are a major risk factor that deters families from allowing their children to be involved in certain sports however it’s not all bad news! Evidence suggests that over 50% of injuries are preventable, highlighting the importance of Physiotherapy. Sports physiotherapists have an important role in managing, rehabilitating and preventing injuries and re-injury. A 2015 Meta-analysis of research found that injury prevention programs focusing on lower limb strength, flexibility and balance can reduce the injury rates in adolescent team sports by an estimated 40%. Strength training under the guidance of expert and close supervision is safe and can have both an injury preventing and performance enhancing effect. Physiotherapists take the time to assess a range of contributing factors for several childhood conditions such as shin splints, patella tendinopathy, severs disease and Osgood Schlatters. Furthermore, physiotherapists often conduct pre-season/pre-participation screenings to identify individual risk factors and physical vulnerabilities and assess sport specific biomechanics. Data gathered from the screening assessment will then be used to develop a personalised injury reduction/performance enhancing exercise program. As touched on, this program will consist of strength, flexibility, coordination, control and balance focused exercises to address the identified impairments and risk factors, ultimately reducing the likelihood of sports related injuries from occurring amongst children and adolescents.

Jonathan Norodom, Physiotherapist

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