injuries and children's sport

The first childhood sporting injury

Sports are so good for children. But it’s not always great for growing bodies. Injuries can be the things that put children off returning to sport afterwards. It’s hard to know you’ve got to go back and start again from where you are. Sods law it happens right when things are progressing well.

When we were children both my brother and I were rarely at the doctors. Except for sporting injuries.

I went with a suspected broken finger (basketball at secondary school) and tennis elbow (squash). My brother was always there – achilles issues, Osgood Shlatter (brought on my growth spurts for him), bruised chest from hockey and multiple other things. My mum was never a fan of sport in her childhood, and always said sport was a dangerous thing. As an adult I dislocated my knee playing squash and ended up having an arthroscopy to drain the fluid, finding a piece of floating bone in there. After 4 weeks in a cast, and 2 weeks of physio I was gradually back playing. And back to full playing strength a lot faster than expected. It always helps recover from injuries when you’re fit and healthy in the first place.

injuries and children's sport

You’re pretty unlucky if you get injuries. Although most aren’t dangerous in themselves. They just take time to heal and get back to fitness afterwards

N has been lucky up until now. He’s been bashed a bit in hockey, mainly due to him falling over, tripping on hockey sticks, and temporarily aching calf. A couple of his sporty friends have had various injuries – knee and ankle. But his luck seems to have come to an end.

A couple of weeks ago he finished his tennis individual lesson and came home saying his heel was now too painful to put his foot down fully. He’s said a few times that his foot was sore, but I’d thought nothing of it as it didn’t seem to last.

But it seemed it had become an ongoing pain. Mostly after exercise. His tennis shoes seemed to give the most pain, but walking barefoot at home isn’t good either.

Of course I googled because it was out of hours and I’d not be able to speak to the doctor for a few days.

It seems that 90% of children’s heel pain at this age (and through the younger part of puberty) is down to Severs disease. An inflammation of a growth plate in the heel that’s not fused until age 14ish. N’s pain isn’t on the back of his heel (thankfully not achilles related), which this can be; it’s mostly underneath on the pad of his heel.

The advice was rest, icing regularly, stopping sport until the pain’s gone, and potentially cushioning insoles or orthotics to give more protection during sport whilst they’re still at risk of the pain returning. Then easing back into sport. And hoping that it’s weeks and not months for the pain to go.

Sods law, it’s happened right after we’d managed to find days that worked for extra private coaching. So, that was all private lessons (2x a week), plus group lessons cancelled til for at least a couple of weeks.

Added to lessons we’d also booked in 3 tournaments for September-October, as well as him due to have 2 league matches. So I cancelled 2 tournaments, although held onto the 3rd for a while. And I pulled him out of at least the first league match.

It took me a while to find another player who was available, but thankfully someone was available. If we’d had the original match day on a Sunday, it would have been fine for spare players, but because the opponents couldn’t do the Sunday, and we couldn’t get courts on the Saturda,y we’d agreed to play away at theirs on the Saturday. Thankfully now, we do still have a team.

I was so pleased I’d got 5 out of the 6 matches all organised nice and early…then it nearly ended up having to forfeit. I was gutted for N. Last year, he missed the first match of the season due to tonsillitis. This year, injury.

N was also pulled out of PE. Or at least anything that involved running or jumping. It meant he had to reading, or do other bits of work while the others did PE. He said he was relieved he was sitting out with the girl who’s got a broken arm. It meant he avoided all of the poor sporting play that lots of the others got involved with in their PE lesson.

With the whole fuel shortage issues, and then him having no more pain after a week of rest, we decided against seeing the doctor face to face. It seemed the advice over the phone had done the job.

We’re treated it as needed and will continue if he gets anymore issues:

  • Cold spray, or ice pack in a towel
  • Ibuprofen if the pain is really bad
  • Anti-inflammatory cream
  • Rest, and no sport
  • Sports based insoles to add to his trainers
  • Wear slippers or flip flops rather than barefoot around the house
  • We also visited our favourite sports shop, and about 8 pairs of shoes later found some that had a bit more insole padding, and that fit. Hopefully these will help.

Last Friday N went back to group tennis lesson having had no pain for a few days. He’d done a couple of hours of tag rugby at school and was fine. He did wear his old tennis trainers, but took his normal running trainers with him if needed. But all seemed fine. This week will be the test point. One private on Wednesday, then Friday with an hour gap before his group session. He won’t be playing a league match until the end of half term, and his next tournament is half term too. So I’m hoping that all’s good by then and we can start booking in November tournaments.

I just hope the pain stays away, and doesn’t keep returning over the next few years. When a child’s got really enthusiastic about his sport, and is really keen to keep irmproving and play regularly, it’s sad that an injury or pain can scupper this progress.

Have your children suffered from similar pain? How have they dealt with any injuries and getting back to sport?

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