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From the Trainer’s Room: What to look for in growth spurts with our athletic children

 

cp head shot 2016As we watch our kids grow up, we see varying stages of their development that excites us.

We see them get taller, their feet and hands grow, and they get stronger. With this development, we as parents expect more from our kids. What we tend to forget is that as they physically grow, it takes time for the rest of their bodies to catch up.

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This lag in strength and coordination makes a child look clumsy at times and does not perform as well in sports and other activities, leaving both the child and parent bewildered.

Major growth spurts in adolescents occur between the ages of 12 and 16 in boys and 11 and 15 in girls.

When growth spurts occur, what are we as parents, coaches and athletic trainers to do? As the body grows, typically, the bones elongate faster than the muscles do. This causes a decrease in flexibility and mobility which can lead to both decreased performance and increased injuries such as muscle strains, so start stretching 1-2 times a day.

Ken Martel, technical director for USA Hockey’s American Development Model, notes that good skaters’ mechanics can go haywire seemingly overnight, so get back to the basics.

Things that your child found easy prior to the spurt may now be difficult, so sometimes we need to simplify the process and take a few steps backwards in order to progress.

This is also a time to get back to basics in the gym focusing on squat mechanics on both two legs and one leg. Start the squats with little to no resistance and slowly progress the intensity with proper mechanics being the key. Balance, coordination and core exercises should also be a major focus at this time of growth.

Chris Phillips is an athletic trainer, strength and conditioning specialist and sports safety specialist at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Orange County.

(Jan. 11, 2019)