Sports For Children

Recently my wife and I had another little baby. Combined with seeing all the young people who go through the doors of our clinic, I am often reminded of the special needs of young children. The physical needs of our young people are quite different than our own. First of all, their body proportions are different from ours. Compared to an adult, a young person's head is large relative to the size of his body. Relative to the rest of the body measurements, the shoulder girdle is smaller, the hips are thin and narrow, and the abdominal cavity is larger. Inside the body, the nervous system is still maturing. The bone structure by weight is about one-quarter cartilage to three-quarters hard bone, which is much lighter and less dense than adult bone structure. When a young person exercises, there are different dynamics at work on his body than there would be for an adult. The weight bearing is slightly forward as compared to an adult. To compensate for that, the child has the tendency to arch the low back more. If we had children perform the same exercises as adults do, we would damage their low backs, shins, knees, and necks. The limberness in a child is proportional to the amount of calcium deposited in his or her bones, muscles, and connective tissues. On average, bones do not completely harden until around twenty-five years of age. It is a mistake to subject young people to weight-lifting exercises requiring power-lifting techniques much before the age of seventeen. The extra weight on the growth plates cause the plates to die, preventing the bone from achieving its potential height. Some exercises better suited for young people are those involving the pushing and pulling of their own weight. For example: push-ups, pull-ups, dips, one-leg lunges, squats without weight, leg press with body-weight, and running stairs. If the child has scoliosis, a modified weight lifting routine can be started to help the spinal muscles pull evenly.
Certain sports have been shown to be harder on young children. Soccer and basketball tend to stress young legs, specifically the tendon connection just below the knee. A child unconditioned to large amounts of activity starting soccer or basketball at ten to twelve years of age can develop knee pain that will last even at rest. Smaller children starting an intense soccer program at five to eight years old can damage the leg's growth centers. The trick is not to be a fanatic about sports for these young people. They should be learning the fundamentals of the sport and mild competition. Some recommended sports for young kids are swimming, football, and playing in the playground. Believe it or not, for a five to eight year-olds, football is very safe due to the amount of padding and the low demand for constant running. When the child's physical structure is in line, he or she will perform at higher levels. I have evaluated several young people's physical alignment and helped with sports performance through chiropractic adjustments. Above all else, if the child has fun at the sport and is learning its fundamentals, then the child will have a great future in that sport they choose.