‘Growing Pains’ – ‘Badminton Magazine’ January 2004 Issue

As the smell of overcooked sprouts fades (don’t ‘cross’ the ends in future!!) and the debt of the season hits home, I would like to wish you all an injury-free New Year.

I am enjoying the emails that you are sending and please accept my apologies if I have not got round to replying personally.  Next issue, I would like to look at elbow problems so if you have an interesting story I would like to hear from you.

Post Christmas, the issue that most mortals struggle with is a growing waistline.  Whilst I agree this is a pain – it is something that I cannot really help with.  The ‘Growing Pains’ header refers to another breed of badminton player – juniors.

Junior players are a threatened breed, although all clubs have them (or should).  Hardened ‘seniors’ look at their junior counterparts and sneer – juniors don’t wear predominantly white clothing, they know that Nintendo’s Mario has a brother (and can name him) and they assume that Captain Kirk has always been bald!  What’s more is that they are usually well taught, have limited ‘bad habits’ and can probably hold their own in senior clubs.  However, whilst we confine this endangered species to the glorified crèche that precedes the ‘proper’ sport I appeal to the parents, coaches and fellow club members to keep an eye on them.  The reason for this is two-fold.  Primarily, Badminton will die if we do not encourage our junior members (we should learn from the Tennis situation in the UK) but more importantly, they suffer injuries too, which if left undiagnosed, end promising careers.

If we are to believe the specialists, our children and teenagers are not a healthy bunch.  I would have to agree that the number of patients, under the age of eighteen that my practice consults has increased dramatically in the last ten years.  The stories of poor diet and obesity are well publicised and these poor souls should have been encouraged to live a more balanced lifestyle early on but it is the few junior ‘athletes’ that we must nurture.

When we are infants, our skeleton is comprised of a small amount of bone that grows, based on a pre-existing cartilaginous model.  Our structure is predetermined but we are not complete (think of the soft part of a new-born’s skull).  Consequently, our musculoskeletal system evolves with the activities that we choose.  Our form is stronger if we decide on an ‘active’ life and obviously weaker if we prefer playing computer games and eating fast foods.

The more athletic teenagers are, unfortunately, also at risk.  Not from heart disease or ‘Playstation Thumb’ but from what appear to be niggling injuries that are repeatedly misdiagnosed as ‘Growing Pains’.  The average female stops growing at the age of 18, whilst the male’s ETA is approximately 22 years. Until these points, we are not completely formed and subsequently suffer with some of the following musculoskeletal injuries: 

  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain and Stiffness
  • Tennis/Golfers Elbow
  • Wrist strain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Knee Tenderness
  • Achilles Tendon strains

Those of us that have any connection with the Badminton stars of the future should act as mentors.  We should spend less time teaching them how to perform clever little disguised drop shots (or serving from the ‘tram lines’, (of which there is never an excuse for!)) and more time making sure they warm-up correctly, eat properly and regularly and drink fluids during matches (preferably at the change of ends).  Above all, listen!  If they are complaining of symptoms, you should seek help.

Think of these measures as investment – after all, they chose our nursing homes!

JH

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