By: Dr. Amanda Meyers-Kuper
Adolescence is a very important stage of life as the body grows and develops into its adult form. Growing pains and hormonal changes are out of their control, and are a necessary part of normal development. My request to parents is that we all teach our children healthy habits as these life changes take place, such as encouraging healthy levels of physical activity. Here’s why that is so important.
Physical activity is shown to release endorphins in the body. Endorphins are neurotransmitters, or chemicals that interact with opiate receptors in the brain. These interactions have two major effects on the body. First, they help naturally reduce pain levels without being addictive like chemically created compounds such as morphine. Second, they help to boost mood and energy, and therefore simply make you feel good. Kids face more and more physical, mental, and emotional challenges every day; why not give them a natural way to feel good about themselves?
Physical activity, like stretching, can help decrease growing pains. As our bones grow our muscles are not always able to keep up at the same rate. Stretching reduces the intensity of the muscles pulling on the bones which is often the primary pain generator when experiencing growing pains. Muscles can also effectively shorten as they grow overall in size. Muscle fibers break down a little to build back up stronger when exposed to exercise. As they get stronger, the muscle fibers contract and pull on their bony attachments which can also lead to pain. Stretching the muscles slowly and regularly can help lengthen the muscle fibers at a rate that does not reduce strength. If you have kids, be a good example and stretch with them to relieve your own stress and help you sleep better.
Physical activity helps support a healthy endocrine system. Our endocrine system controls all of our hormones and plays an integral part in our body’s response to food, sleep, and activity. By challenging this system with healthy stressors like moderate exercise, the body learns to adapt to many different physical states. For example, during sustained physical activity lasting 20-30 minutes or more, the body
adapts and uses our fat stores to provide energy. This helps create an environment for balanced blood sugar levels, and therefore reduces the chance of Type II Diabetes and obesity. Establishing healthy physical activity and exercise habits early with our children will help them fight many of the common diseases that plague our society today.
Sometimes kids, especially teenagers, try to do too much. The pressure of sports performance and the desire to earn scholarship money is becoming a problem for our adolescent athletic population. Walking that fine line between healthy activity levels and overtraining is often difficult, but is very important to prevent injury and long term complications. So be mindful of other important necessities in your child’s life, such as rest, post-exercise recovery, adequate sleep, and healthy nutrition. If your child does suffer an injury, we can help. Chiropractic manipulation and other soft tissue techniques we use can enhance their recovery, return them to participation as soon as possible, and help prevent future injuries.
At Body Logic, we treat children of all ages, sizes, and activity levels. The specific techniques are often different than what we use on adults, depending on many factors including age. But children in general tend to respond quickly to their treatment, and enjoy it too! Our daughter Abby was adjusted within hours of her birth, and we have the pleasure of treating lots of children in our office. Keep our children moving and keep our children healthy! If your child has pain or a specific injury, or if they could use some guidance and emphasis on proper posture, or if you just want them to come in for a “check up” to make sure there aren’t any problems, we are here to help.