Growing pains are a common cause of distress for many children and teens. This pain is usually felt at night time and after physical activities.
One of theories about the cause of growing pains is that the femur bones in the thighs (the longest bones in the body), grow at a faster rate than the muscles can stretch.
The hamstring muscles are at the back of thigh, running from the bones in the buttocks, crossing over the back of the knee and into the lower leg. When the hamstring muscles are tight it creates a sharp, pulling sensation in the thigh, knee and calf muscles.
On top of heat packs, massage and magnesium, simply stretching the hamstrings each night, may help to reduce the severity and frequency of growing pains.
There are a few ways to stretch the hamstrings:
1) STANDING: Fold forward from the hips. Be sure to bend the knees and don’t worry if the hands don’t touch the toes- touching the shins is ok!
2) SITTING: Outstretch the legs, bend the knees and rest the belly on the upper thighs. Reach the hands down the legs, and again… don’t worry about touching the toes!
3) SUPINE: Resting on the back is the best way to stretch out the tightest of hamstrings so the rest of the body can relax. Check out more details below:
- Make it a habit to stretch each night before going to sleep
- Lie on the back without any pillows under the head
- Keep the head resting down, and relax the shoulders
- Take one leg up into the air and hold it behind the back of the thigh
- Take a deep breath and on the exhale, draw the thigh closer into the chest, keeping the knee bent
- USE A PROP to get a deeper stretch: Place a belt/ tie on the ball of the foot, hold the tails of the strap to draw the toes down toward the shin and at the same time, bring the thigh towards the chest.
Stacey Nelson, is co-producer of a Kids Yoga DVD series “Light Up Little Lights” and has online videos and resources for tweens and teens called “Light Up Yoga”. Stacey has over 20 years experience working with children & teens in various contexts including yoga; fitness; dance; sports teams; the school classroom; early childhood & TV. She has taught Children’s Yoga for 10 years; is a Yoga Therapist at the Nambour Hospital Children’s Ward and facilitates Kids Yoga Teacher Training course. www.yogapalette.com.au