Growing Pains and Clumsiness

If you have school aged children, you have probably witnessed the clumsiness that comes with rapid growth, and maybe even random pains experienced by your child.  These pains are often referred to as growing pains and, like the gawky awkwardness that comes with periods of rapid growth, we accept them as rites of passage.  But what if I told you that both were treatable?

If you search the internet for the causes of growing pains, you will find many reputable sources that state that the pains are just a result of muscle aches due to intense activity in young children.  Hunh?  Watching how active my young children are, I would think that they should be in intense pain all the time by this logic, yet of course they aren’t.  So what gives?

Let me tell you about our first experience with growing pains.  My daughter out of the blue began complaining of pain in her legs one day.  We thought she was just trying to get out of doing something she didn’t want to at the time.  However, a few days later when she was still complaining I had a look.  As soon as I put my hands on her leg muscles my eyes bugged right out of my head.  Almost every muscle in both her legs was hard and tight like a rock.

What I quickly realized was that her complaints were legitimate – cue the mommy guilt for not believing her, but that’s a whole other story.  You see, when children grow, it is the long bones in their limbs that lengthen most rapidly (think thigh bones and shin bones for instance).  The problem is that the muscles don’t keep up with the rapid lengthening of the bones so they get very tight.  They also tend to stick to one another, and get stuck down onto the bones.   All of this results in not only muscle pain but muscle dysfunction which manifests itself as clumsiness.  So your child may be crashing into things and losing their balance as well as having pain.

We have probably all seen kids during and following growth spurts who suddenly seem like Bambi on a frozen pond.  We consider it a normal part of growing up and we tell ourselves they’ll get over it eventually, and in fact they do, but in the interim they are at greatly increased risk of injury.  As for growing pains, well no one likes to see their child in pain and feel like there is nothing you can do for them.

The solution to both these problems is hands-on treatment to free the muscles from one another and from the underlying bone.  One might think that simple stretching would do the trick, but when we stretch we are essentially pulling on both ends of the muscle.  The problem is there are some parts of the muscle that are tight and stuck and other parts that are not, so when we just pull on both ends the part that has some give gives, and the tight part doesn’t.  By putting hands on we can feel exactly where the tightness is and release it, which stretching alone cannot achieve.  By freeing the muscles, they can then do their jobs properly and thus, not only is the pain relieved but the clumsiness disappears as well.

Once I treated my daughter’s legs her pains were instantly relieved, as was my mommy guilt.  The only problem then was my son decided he had leg pains and needed his legs rubbed too just because he wanted some attention.  Well, no harm in being proactive I guess!  This physiotherapist always has time for that.