Although we typically think of muscle pain or ache as something that happens in our older years, there are a variety of reasons why teenagers will also suffer the odd twinge or two:
Many teenagers suffer back problems because of the weight of their backpacks, thanks to the school books and gadgets they carry around with them on a daily basis. Additionally, many teenagers tend to carry their backpacks on only one shoulder which puts an uneven strain on their spine. In this case, the back muscles will try and compensate for the unequal load they’re carrying around, putting unnecessary pressure on the back. Some experts recommend restricting the weight of the backpack to 10-15% of your child’s body weight, and encourage them to distribute the weight by carrying their bags on both shoulders.
Muscles can cramp for a number of reasons, such as dehydration, exercising in warm weather especially if the teenager isn’t drinking enough, over-using a muscle, certain medications, not enough blood flow to the muscles, compressed nerves or a loss of some minerals from the body. Cramps can be dealt with through simple stretching – if the cramp is in the calf muscle, get your child to straighten their leg and flex their foot.
Perhaps the greatest cause of muscle pain in the young is from bad posture. Many indulge in long periods of inactivity, usually slumped over a phone or other gadget, which is producing a generation of round-shouldered teenagers with weak and misaligned back muscles.
Thankfully, a lot of teenagers are keen on playing sports. Sport England is using Lottery money to encourage unsporty young people to try it out with free or subsidised coaching; initiatives like Sport Relief are raising awareness of getting active; and the phenomenal success of British sportsmen and women is prompting young people to take up the sports of their heroes. Aches, pains and niggles are a staple side-effect of taking part in sports, especially if the teenager in question doesn’t warm up properly. By encouraging warm-up and warm-down exercises, many of these niggles can be prevented.
All of these conditions can be dealt with simply and easily, usually through a combination of manipulation and exercises to help encourage good posture. If you would like to make an appointment for your teenager to see our trained osteopaths, contact us for more information.