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Get moving: physio tips for keeping kids active and injury free

28 June 2019

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What’s the right balance of activity for kids and what can you do to try to keep them injury-free? In our final movement blog, physiotherapist Rebecca Dodson talks about how parents can help their kids enjoy sport without stressing their bodies.

Balance is important…

We all know that it’s not healthy for our children to be inactive – but too much high intensity sport when they’re young can also have long terms effects on their bodies. Children are growing and what they do in childhood lays foundation for their bodies and health in later years. 

ACC recommends that children do no more than one hour of sport for every year old they are…

So if you have an eight-year-old child, eight hours of physical activity a week is enough. That includes playing sports, training, competing and school PE classes.

Children under 10 have suffered more sports related injuries in the last ten years…

ACC reports that the statistics are up 63% for this age group. For children over ten the injury rate is also higher than it was for the previous ten-year period, up 60%. It comes back to balance. Kids who are regularly inactive are at greater risk of injury when they do high intensity sport but so are kids who exceed the hours per week guideline. Kids need plenty of regular rest days!

A broad range of activities is better than specialising early…

The myth is that children who specialise early in one sport are more likely to be the superstars in the field in adulthood. Actually, a broad range of activities, until they’re at least 12, is a better way to go. It encourages a variety of movements, keeps their interests open and means they’re less likely to burn out.

Age appropriate training and coaching…

So many children’s sports teams are run by mum and dad volunteers who are there for the kids and their community but may not necessarily know the recommendations. If your child is involved in a team run by parent coaches – or if you’re a parent coach, take a look at the ACC information on kids in sport. It focuses on giving children variety, balance and making sure they’re enjoying the activities they’re doing and taking rests. 

Bone density and puberty…

Too much high intensity sport can limit the energy a child has for growth and development. When your child nears puberty it’s particularly important to think about whether they are doing too much high intensity training. Bones lengthen and increase in density during puberty and too much training can actually delay puberty. This can have life-long effects. Delaying puberty reduces the time the body has to build bone mass and has implications for bone density into adulthood.

It also pays to think about puberty, high-intensity sport and bone density earlier than you might think. Girls can enter puberty as young as eight or nine and there’s some evidence that more girls are entering puberty younger than in previous generations. 

Rebecca Dodson

About Rebecca Dodson


Rebecca has trained and worked as a musculoskeletal and sports physio for 20 years. Over the past 10 years her passion for women’s health led her to specialise in pelvic floor physiotherapy, pre- and post-natal exercise, clinical pilates and acupuncture. She is a leader in women’s health and in 2015 established Leto Women’s Health with fellow physiotherapist and women’s health leader Stacey Law.

The information in this article has been compiled from various sources and is intended to be factual information only. Full details of policy terms and conditions are available from Asteron Life Limited or your financial adviser. For advice on product suitability, please contact your financial adviser. While we take reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate and up-to-date, it is subject to change without notice. Asteron Life Limited and its related companies does/do not accept any responsibility or liability in connection with your use of or reliance on this article.

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