The simple answer is: YES.

I thought I’d tackle this topic since it’s been popping up a lot recently with my dancers.  A good number of my preteen dancers are complaining of pain when they dance and I’ve been having a lot of conversations with parents on this condition and how they can help their child through their discomfort.  So for this entry, I thought I’d highlight some simple points on what growing pains actually are and what you as a parent or dance teacher can do about them.

So what are growing pains, really?

Medical diagnosis will often say apophysitis or traction apophysitis, or it might be specific to the location.  In the knees it can be called Osgood-Schlatter Disease.  In the heels or ankles it can be called Sever’s Disease. On the outsides of the feet by the pinkies it can be called Iselin Disease. Btw – “disease” actually just means a disorder of the body that causes symptoms in a specific location, so don’t freak out.  : )

Basically in preteen kids (usually from ages 8-11), the ends of their bones have not completely solidified because they are still growing.  An apophysis is a “bony bump” near the end of some bones and usually a muscle attaches there. Since the bone has not solidified, any excessive pulling by the muscle on the apophysis can cause irritation because the apophysis itself is being pulled on as well.  In many cases the “pulling” comes from the muscle trying to lengthen across a bone that is growing in length…thus, growing pains.

Growing pains usually come around growth spurts and can be experienced by just about any child, but active kids typically are irritated by their chosen sport because it requires more frequent or more intense muscle use than everyday activities.

How do I know if my child is experiencing growing pains?

Common signs and symptoms are:

Pain in the joints on both sides – most commonly the knees, ankles, or hips

Pain with activity that usually decreases with rest

Tenderness to touch around joint areas – just below the kneecaps, around the ankles, or on the sides of the hip

Many of the kids I treat have pain or difficulty with kneeling, releves, plies, and jumping

Swelling at the site of inflammation

So what can I do about it?

This is one of the rare occurrences where I believe a little more rest from aggravating activities can aid in a quicker recovery, at least early on until pain is minimized.  I still recommend observing class and rehearsals to my clients and I often increase their current conditioning program to keep non-injured areas from becoming too inactive.

Specific to the diagnosis, many of my clients get relief from a just few sessions over 2-3 weeks which focuses on manual work to increase muscle and joint mobility. I also incorporate basic stretches or mobility exercises into their conditioning program in between visits.

Overall, early intervention is key.  I usually don’t have clients out of dance or sports for too long due to their symptoms.  Children, parents and teachers are often able to manage future flare ups easily and quickly.

Stay tuned for more posts about common injuries and education for dance and sports fitness!

Happy Dancing!


Think your dancer or athlete is suffering from growing pains?  CONTACT AZDM for a free consultation!

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