There’s a common perception that physiotherapy is something that you do when you’re hurt and want to heal. This is especially the case among younger people, as most youths do not experience the nagging aches and pains that come with a long life full of adventures, injuries, bumps, and bruises.
This perception is changing, albeit slowly, and we think that’s a positive thing. Physiotherapy is as much about injury prevention as it is about rehabilitation.
Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission”? Well, this may be true in some areas (not that we encourage it), but when it comes to our bodies, asking for permission is always the better way to go.
What do we mean by “asking for permission”? Well, for starters, incorporating stretching, physiotherapy, massage, and other types of therapy traditionally associated with rehabilitation into a preventative regimen has been proven to reduce injuries, help young athletes recover from their workouts faster, and alleviate stress and anxiety that often stem from injury-related downtime.
Consider this: going for a run can be a jarring experience for your body (and knees especially). As adults, we are usually much more aware of this because things have happened in our lives that make us intimately aware of the true impact running has.
But for a young child or an active teenager that is involved in sports? Such awareness is likely in the back of their minds (if they’re aware of it at all). Remember: when we’re young, we’re invincible; nothing can hurt us.
Until something does.
Looking at the youth demographic, several studies suggest that most injuries occur in teenagers. A study looking at the rising popularity of soccer in the United States found that for kids under age 10, fewer than 1 injury per 100 players occurred; among teens, the rate of injury rose to 7.7 per 100 players.
Another study that looked at sports participation among Calgary high-school students, published in 2006, looked at the the rate of injury vs. participation. It found that there were approximately 40 injuries per 100 participants, and the top 5 injuries were to the ankle, knee, head, back, and wrist. The corresponding injuries were sprains, contusion, concussion, fractures, and muscle strain.
Another study that looked at 540 students age 9-12 (from 26 Calgary elementary schools) found that rates of injury were much lower: around 28 injuries per 100 participants.
Note: this study didn’t just look at soccer, but all sports the kids participated in.
This study, again looking at Calgary-area junior high school students, found that among youth with prior injuries, the rate of injury was approximately 61 per 100 participants. This number fell to just 29 injuries per 100 participants among students with no prior history of injury.
It’s easy to look at clinical studies that paint an unfavourable perspective and draw conclusions. In this case, it may seem logical to pull kids out of youth sports in order to prevent injury. Participation in sports has been shown to be tremendously beneficial from both a health perspective as well as a social and academic one.
However, the studies do paint a compelling picture for the value of injury prevention- that’s where we come in!
We know that we sound biased when we extol the virtues of physiotherapy as a viable tool for injury prevention. However, you don’t need to strictly take our word for it- there is a lot of information out there that reinforces the notion that physio can be as beneficial for injury prevention as it is for rehabilitation.
A study published in 2004, which looked at 1,837 youth athletes, found that by incorporating regular warm-ups, a core conditioning program, and mobility exercises, rates of injury among the studied group was roughly half of the control group (48 vs 81 injuries overall).
Guess what- our sports rehabilitation physiotherapy services are focused on mobility, conditioning, and habit training!
We encourage kids to get out there and be rough and tumble! Roll in the dirt, climb trees, ride bikes, and do whatever else makes them happy and keeps them active! We also encourage parents to bring their children to a physiotherapist every now and again so we can teach conditioning, posture, and work on mobility- especially in the joints.
Physiotherapy has been proven to be an effective preventative tool, helping to prevent injury and mitigate the effects of an injury when it does occur.
In fact, one study published in 1983 found that working with a physiotherapist reduced injuries by as much as 75% among soccer players. Woah!
Working together, we will create a customized preventative program that helps your child feel better, perform more effectively in their chosen sport, and have more fun when out and about. After all, there’s no quicker way to take the magic out of a sport they love than for them to experience a painful injury that keeps them out of the game.
After all, when it comes to the health of your kids, we’re in this together!