Growth, Maturation & Injury

Sporting Injuries in Children & Adolescents

Children are not mini-adults; they are growing & maturing and their physical needs and their capabilities are changing as they progress through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is vital that parents & coaches understand and recognise individual differences if they are to nurture potential talent.

What is Growth and Maturation?

When discussing age, you’ll often hear the terms chronological and biological. Chronological age is calculated based on when a child was born, whereas biological age refers to the stage at which that child finds themselves in their physical maturation. Even though a boy may have just celebrated their thirteenth birthday, their biological age may be greater or less than that of other boys their age; this is noticeable through differences in their physique, the speed of their growth and when they reach puberty. Sometimes this is referred to as early/late development, however it’s important to note that there is no blueprint for when and the rate at which growth spurts happen.

How do we Monitor Growth and Maturation?

The Academy Sport Science department collect and record players’ height and weight data every four months. Using this data, along with information about parental height, the boys’ growth and maturation patterns can be formulated. More importantly, Peak Height Velocity (which is the period in which most rapid growth happens) can be predicted and individual training regimes can be adjusted accordingly.

Peak Height Velocity and Sporting Injuries

Peak Height Velocity (PHV) is an important measure as during this period of rapid growth, young athletes may be at an increased risk of injury.

Symptoms which may suggest growth related injury:

  1. Aches and pains during or after exercise – this could indicate relative weakening of the bone
  2. Tightness and heavy legs – this could be caused by muscle imbalances around a joint
  3. Aches, pains and tightness before training/games and worsening after – this could be due to tightening of the muscle-tendon units spanning rapidly growing bones

It is important to note that these types of injuries are common. When presenting with such symptoms, boys will be assessed and diagnosed by the medical team.

How are these Growth-Related Injuries Managed?

The Sport Science and Medicine team will work proactively with coaches to modify individual training programmes when and where appropriate. Continued analysis of sport science and medical data will predict Peak Height Velocity and help to identify player tolerances.

If a growth-related injury is identified, the Physiotherapy team will provide individualised assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. Once ready, the injured player’s return to the programme will continue to be overseen by a multi-disciplinary team of coaches and medical staff.

If your son sustains a growth-related injury, you will be informed about any changes that need to be made to his training programme and advised upon relevant timescales for recovery.

Should you have any further enquiries, you can contact the Physiotherapy team via the links on the Physiotherapy Team page.

Joe Maden-Wilkinson

Academy Physiotherapist