An active kid is a healthy kid! Well, usually.
Promoting an active, healthy lifestyle from a young age is a great way to set your child up to have good health habits lifelong. But of course, there’s some inherent risk that comes with just about everything.
Young children are a bit more susceptible to hip injuries, primarily because of their age. But before you pull your child out of organized sports, read on. In this article, we share what to watch out for, and how to proactively protect your young athlete.
Why Are Kids Susceptible To Hip Injuries?
Simply put, kids are still growing. Though their bodies may be capable of impressive athletic feats, their growth plates are still open and vulnerable. With girls, the growth plates stay open until the ages of 13-15, while the growth plates of boys close somewhere between 15-17. That means extra health precautions may be needed through the majority of high school, at least for some youth.
The open growth plates addressed in this post are found in the pelvis and also at the head of the thigh bone. Age aside, the hip joint is a complex joint in itself. The growth plate factor compounds the joint discussion, and makes this joint more susceptible to injury from intense activity.
Most youth hip injuries stem from some sort of overuse and result in soft-tissue injury, like a muscle strain or tendonitis. A tight IT band (the connective tissue that runs from the hip to the knee) can also cause substantial hip issues and discomfort. The same goes for sciatic pain. In more extreme instances, injuries from ongoing overuse can lead to a hip labral tear (a tear of the outer rim cartilage of the hip). Essentially: they may be doing more than their bodies can handle athletically at this point in their lives.
When Hip Injury Occurs
The good news is that they have youth on their side! From a healing perspective, most youth hip injury cases have a very good recovery rate, as their tissue is generally more resilient. However, this hinges big time on getting the right assistance.
If your active child begins to complain (or show symptoms) of hip pain, it’s important to seek a medical evaluation sooner rather than later. Do they have pain raising their knee? Do they feel pain shooting down their outer leg? Has their mobility changed in some way? These are all small signs of distress in the hip area that could point to a greater injury. And, the earlier that the symptoms are caught and addressed, the better in terms of a healing timeline.
Another important note: because children usually have a faster healing timeline, a swift diagnosis is even more important. If an injury needs specific treatment, you want to ensure that the body is healing in the appropriate manner.
Proactive Care For The Hips
The best way to solve any problem is to stay ahead of it! Now that you know your young athlete may be at a higher risk, it’s important to not only heed potential warning signs of injury, but also take steps to prevent these injuries completely. The following are some tried-and-true tips to help prevent injury and maintain good overall athletic health.
Warm-ups and Cool-downs
No matter the sport – warm-ups and cool-downs should never be neglected! A warm-up helps get the body ready for higher intensity activity, whether that be sprinting, playing soccer, or basketball. Without preparing the body through warm-up movement and drills, the risk for injury is much higher.
The same goes for cool-downs. Following intense exercise, it’s important to build in a phase that lets the body gradually come back down. This also helps the muscles begin to clear some of the build-up that can occur because of hard physical work, and will decrease soreness in the days following the activity.
It may sound simple, but a day off every once in awhile can work wonders! Even if your child is raring to go, it’s still important to let their bodies rest and recover. Because they are still in a growing phase, rest days allow the body to absorb intense physical activity and are incredibly important.
Hold Off From Sport-Specializing
Your kid may be the next Michael Jordan, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ready for the same rigors of training that a collegiate or professional athlete endures. Long-term athleticism is built over years of consistent, healthy training. Making a child specialize in one sport at too early of an age (and making it a focus year-round) could not only burn them out mentally, but also cause unnecessary injuries.
A great way to play to an athletically talented (or just athletically-driven) kid is to rotate sports throughout a given year. For example, a soccer player who participates in a fall season may take up running track and field during the spring. Both sports give them an active outlet, but the change in activity can help safeguard the child from an overuse injury.
Plus, remember that they’re ultimately still a child and sports should be kept fun– not too serious. While they may have an incredible gift and even a keen interest in one specific sport, chances are they’ll have a good time with some other sports as well. There is plenty of time to grow into their chosen sport when they’re a bit older and ready for a specialization. Not to mention, participating in multiple sports at an early age can help build overall strength and athleticism that will serve them well later in life.
How Chiropractic Can Help Keep Athletic Kids Healthy
Chiropractic care in general is a great way to stay on top of overall health and wellness, but is especially helpful when managing the rigors of an athletic schedule. The gentle adjustments of the neck, spine, and extremities help to realign the body and provide relief to the entire system. These adjustments also serve to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow the entire body and immune system to communicate and function better.
Additionally, a chiropractor can specifically address areas of aches and pains, including the hips. Oftentimes, the areas that are painful are not necessarily the source of the injury. By working consistent chiropractic care into the routine, you’re helping to set your child up for long-term health.
Help keep your child healthy.