Is My Child Doing The Right Exercise

Common Question's Parents Ask Our Physios About Their Sporty Children

Is my 14 years old child overdoing their exercise?

They are out doing something at least five times per week. Are they doing too much training? 

My two teenage children have recently started lifting weights.  I have concerns.. Will this affect their growth? The last thing I want is them getting injured. 

My 12 years old  boy complains of knee pain every few weeks. It is obvious that he has slowed down but still trains with his club every week. Is there something I should be concerned about?

I’ve noticed their running style change over the last few months. Does this happen during growth spurts? What should I do?

I have two teenage children, one boy & one girl,  who are really into their sport. Are there certain types of exercise they should be doing? 

If I got a euro for every time a conscientious parent asked me one of these questions I wouldn’t be driving a Skoda! 🙂 

It’s natural to have concerns about your child as they engage in sport. Especially if you have to watch them suffer afterwards.  This should not be the case. 

GAA physio

First and foremost the benefits of regular exercise and being involved in a club are the development of health, social skills, wellness, and positive lifestyle habits.

As your child grows up it is important that they partake in physical activity which promotes cardiovascular and cognitive health. 

This can come in any shape or form but should be structured. Most clubs have trained coaches who follow a system which is part of a pathway designed to be age appropriate as your child develops. It would be good to be aware of  your coaching structures within the clubs your child attends. 

How much training is too much?

There is no specific answer to this question. Every child (and adult for that matter) is different and training loads must be tailored to their body’s capacity to tolerate the demands of the training.

It is also very important to be vigilant around growth spurts. During these phases of development the child will experience significant rates of growth. (See the Peak Height Velocity (PHV) chart for boys and girls. ) This rapid change in mass, strength, height and metabolism can result in a sudden increase in load (physical stress) on the body.

Peak Height Velocity graph for male and females

Why can too much training be an issue?

Typically tissues that are affected are knee joints, particularly the Patellar tendon, referred to as Osgood Schlatter’s Disease, and the Achilles tendon , referred to as Sever’s disease.  

Despite having the founders name and the word ‘disease’ after them they are relatively straightforward to treat once addressed in a timely manner.  So don’t leave your child limp around from one training session to the next for weeks on end. 

The other important thing to note is that it is totally fine for your child to be playing and training five or more times per week. However only provided they have built up to this amount of training over time.

Let me phrase this another way.  It would not be advised for a boy or girl in their teens, who is new to physical activity, to start training four or more times per week. Everyone’s body needs time to recover from the impact of physical training. Ensuring ‘ days off’ are scheduled is a good thing to allow the body to adapt in time for the next training session. 

The other solution to training every day is to do something different. Football or Hurling on a Saturday, Sunday off, Athletics on a Monday,  Swimming on Tuesday, Tennis on a Wednesday, PE on a Thursday. That followed by Friday off before playing a weekend match for example. 

Is it safe for my thirteen year old to lift weights?

dumbells in the gym

This  is one of the most common concerns asked by parents these days? 

The simple answer is yes it is. 

The more detailed advice would be to make sure that your child has been coached to be able to move correctly.

So what does a movement coach do?

A movement coach screens any budding sports person (or lay person) on how they perform certain movements such as a squat, lunge, hip hinge (RDL) or  hop to mention a few basic ones. 

Corrective advice is crucial

Based on how competently a person can do these tasks the movement coach or physio can immediately give corrective advice. That advice can be put into practice there and then.  This type of movement advice requires a keen eye from the physio / coach and dedication from the child and parents. 

Once these fundamental movement patterns are improved then the child can safely be progressed onto a strength programme that will help them develop over time. 

If you see your child starting to run differently, and perhaps lose their speed or look like they are adopting an ungainly gait then it can often be as a result of a growth spurt or tissue overload.

Their body’s are subconsciously adapting to the stress loads placed on them. The end result is an unfavourable one where they may be noticeably ‘struggling’ to run or turn. 

This sort of issue is common and again is not of any huge concern but should be respected sooner rather than letting things deteriorate further.  If allowed to persist , or if the thought process is to ‘push through it’ the child could experience more significant levels of discomfort. They would also be at higher risk of injury and in some cases loses confidence in themselves or with their peers. 

Physical activity of any description is critical to our children’s  healthy development. It is a great source of pleasure, fun, social interactions and healthy competitiveness for us all to enjoy.

Knowing and understanding your child’s expectations and limitations or those of the coach will help you steer the ship in the optimal direction. 

As we say at APC Physio & Sports Clinic  ‘ Move Well, Feel Well, Be Well’.

Take care ,  


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