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Growing pains – is it a real thing?

November 23rd, 2021 by
Category: Chiropractic Care Dr. Kodie Smith Pain

group of children playing outside in a park

Growing up is a natural part of life and is an especially exciting time for children as they grow up to explore and find their place in the world. However, growing should only be painful for the hearts of parents as they watch their little ones develop and become individuals. If your child is experiencing vague reoccurring physical pains in the legs or arms, that is often worse at night, they could be suffering from ‘growing pains’.

What are growing pains?

‘Growing pains’ affect approximately 10-20% of the childhood population and typically occurs in children between the ages of 2-12 years. They will generally start during the very active years of childhood or young adolescence and will usually disappear before the onset of puberty. There are many possible causes of growing pains, including muscle overuse, joint misalignments and postural distortions – causes which may be able to be treated or managed by allied health professionals, including Chiropractors.

How can Chiropractic help with growing pains?

Chiropractors may be able to help people experiencing ‘growing pains’ in the following ways:

Lower Extremity Adjustments

The Chiropractor will check for misalignments throughout the joints in the legs including the hip, knee, ankle and foot. They will work to correct these dysfunctions with specific adjustments, reducing pain and improving function in those joints.

Spinal adjustments

Checking for misalignments or dysfunctional areas throughout the spine is important as every bone and joint is connected. In the majority of cases, ‘growing pains’ are not caused by growing, rather, the pain is caused by things like spinal curves (for example, scoliosis) and influenced by the joints throughout the spinal region. A whole-body approach helps to re-establish good overall health and avoid further injury and combat discomfort/pain.

Postural or gait issues

On top of the above, the Chiropractor will also assess, identify and treat any underlying postural related or walking gait issues that may have an impact on the lower extremity joints and the entire spine, or affect the recovery/management of growing pains.

3 tips to help manage growing pains

1. Rest

Adequate rest is crucial to allow the muscles and joints time to heal and recover from being active throughout the day. Especially as children, our bodies are constantly active throughout the day – whether it be at school or playing sport. Rest will allow those muscles that are causing the ‘growing pains’ time to relax and recover, ready to go again the following day. It will also help to prevent further injury or reinjury in the future.

2. Massage or rubbing

Massages or rubbing of painful affected limbs can have many benefits on a physical and mental level. From a physical stance, massages help to relax the musculature and prevent/treat any tight knots or tissues that may affect the function of a muscle. On the other hand, children commonly respond well to being touched, held or cuddled. Therefore, spending some time with your child, holding them or rubbing their legs and/or arms will also help to soothe their mind, body and soul, whilst distracting from the ongoing ‘growing pains’.

3. Stretching

Stretching is another great tool to utilise daily to help prevent injury and aid in the recovery of muscles. It is recommended that your child engages in a good daily stretching routine to help prevent pain in heavily used muscles including calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes. Stretches your kids can give a go include: 

Glute Stretch

Child performing glute stretch

How to perform this stretch:

  • Sit on the ground with your legs extended
  • Cross one leg over the other in a bent position
  • Use your hands to hold your knee close to your body to create a stretch in the glute/buttock areas
  • Hold stretch for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Repeat 2 – 3 times on both legs

Quad Stretch

Child performing quad stretch

How to perform this stretch:

  • Stand up straight, next to a wall for stability/balance if needed
  • Bend your knee, holding your foot close to the buttock area
  • Aim to get your leg straight down so your knee is facing towards the ground
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Repeat 2 – 3 times on each leg

Low back stretch

Child performing low back stretch

How to perform this stretch:

  • Stand up straight next to a wall, using it for stability/balance if needed
  • Bend your knee and bring it towards your chest, using your hands to hold it there
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Repeat 2 – 3 times on each leg

Calf stretch

Child performing calf stretch

How to perform this stretch:

  • Stand up straight, facing towards a wall
  • Place one foot up against the wall, with heel resting on the ground
  • Lean in towards the wall for more of a stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • Repeat 2 – 3 times on each leg

Every child is individual and unique, therefore you may find some techniques and tips work better than others for ‘growing pains’. If you require further tailored advice for your child, please reach out to your local health professional or speak to one of our Chiropractors in practice

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