Growing Injuries in the Young Athlete

  • 14 November 2016
  • Laura Dutton

Growing Injuries- Advice to Parents

Growing injuries can affect any one going through a growth spurt and can be very frustrating when they occur. They are most likely to occur to those engaging in high level or regular sport alongside the growth spurt. 


Why do they occur?

Muscles and bones grow at different rates. Bones grow at a quicker rate than muscles and tendons. This means that if engaging in sport on a frequent basis or at a high level during a growth spurt then effectively the high demands placed on the muscles means that they gradually tighten relative to the longer bones. This therefore means that muscles get very inflexible and start tugging away at their attachments into the bones which may be seen as a bony lump and can cause pain or discomfort. This can also interfere with the growth plates and ultimately could pose longer term effects.  

If children are engaging in sport at school in P.E lessons, playing sport in the playgrounds at breaks and have many different level clubs most nights of the week and weekends including races/matches and training sessions, it can soon equate to hours and hours of sporting activities, which increases the load already placed on the stressed growing body.


Where do they commonly occur?

Growing injuries commonly occur at the heel (Sever's disease), knee tibial tuberosity (Osgood Schlatter) and at the pelvic bone (hip Apophysitis). 


Common symptoms?





Limping with walking and running


Common signs?

The parent/carer may notice that their child has shot upwards suddenly

Increased appetite

Increased sleep

Feeling fatigued following the session

Outgrown footwear/school clothing/training kit


How to manage them?

The best advice I tell parents I see in the clinic is that the child's growth should be monitored on a regular basis (weekly or fortnightly) and then keeping an eye out on the trend and any significant jumps out of the normal trend.  If everything remains steady growth then all is good but if there is a sudden jump of growth from one fortnight to the next then it will be best to make some changes to their physical activity/modify training over the next two weeks following this growth spurt. Changes include, avoiding intense activity  such as competitions and races, reducing duration of each session and reducing the number of sessions per week. Try replacing a normal sporting session with swimming which is non impact and places less strain on the bones and soft tissues.  Also try to include more core strengthening and stretching exercises to help restore the normal muscular length. 

Physiotherapy can help to give more advice and guidance to both the child and the parents. Also physiotherapy can include a tailored exercise programme for the child including core, strengthening and stretching exercises.  

In certain cases 6 weeks of rest may be required from normal sporting activity to prevent long term or detrimental effect, however it is always best to seek the advice of a Doctor or sports Physiotherapist. Please come and see us if you would like any further advice or assessment of an injury.


Five Top Tips for Young Athletes

1. Monitor Growth regularly (weekly/fortnightly) looking for any differences in the normal trends

2. Modify training for the following fortnight following a growth spurt including reduction in intensity of session, reduction in time of session, amount of sessions in a week, and avoid/reduce competitions.

3. Include core strengthening exercises

4. Include stretches to allow the soft tissue structures catch up with the bony structures

5. Replace a normal sporting session with a swimming session



About Laura Dutton

Laura Dutton Physiotherapist

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