Growth Spurts, Dry Land/Strength Training & The Young Athlete

Like many parents these days I (Dr. Ongerth) have a growing teenager. I swear I blink and he has outgrown his clothes/gotten taller. He now is almost half a head taller than me and calls me his “small adult”.  He has gone through thee swim fin sizes in the last six months!  As kids go through growth sports their muscle tension relationship changes as does their motor control as their bodies try to accommodate their new height/length.       

Your graceful/fast/super coordinated athlete has become seemingly uncoordinated, now may have poor timing, or demonstrate decreased hand/foot eye coordination.  As a person grows they may have a temporary loss/decrease of coordination and balance during puberty. This is also a time where we see such conditions as Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee) and Seaver’s Disease (heel) which are childhood repetitive use injuries that affects children experiencing growth spurts. 

During a growth spurt stretching seemingly tight muscles can actually increase discomfort from Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee) and Seaver’s Disease (heel).   

During this time it is important to reassess your young athletes Range of Motion, Core, and extremity muscle strength and adjust their dry land / strength training programs accordingly.  During this time It is also important to look at your young athletes overall fitness and confidence.  Reassure them that this period of awkwardness/decrease coordination will improve.  

This is also a great time to book a session with us here at Iron Horse Physical Therapy and Pilates to perform a whole body screen to protect your young athletes and help them continue to excel with a Movement-based strength training program with a heavy emphasis on proper biomechanics. Let’s keep our young athletes healthy, happy, and loving the game / sport.