Written by Julie Paul, BSc (HealthSciences), MScPT – Pediatric Physiotherapist at Kids Physio Group (North Van & Vancouver)
Last post I discussed “Pain Language: Let Kids Learn the Lingo”. Now, let’s focus on the importance of teaching kids about their bodies after injury and during movement.
My job is to rehabilitate children of all ages with sports injuries, foot posture concerns, concussions, issues with alignment, and more. When I start treating any child, I make a point to take the following steps. These are important for anyone doing exercise with kids including parents, teachers, coaches, dance teachers, and camp leaders.
Find out what the child knows about their injury
Hear it from their words: what happened, what structures were injured and what activities they think they can and can’t do. This gives us an idea of their body knowledge, and how much they truly understand.
Teach the child what they don’t know
Explain in kid-friendly language about the injury to their muscles, bones, and structures that attach these together. This helps to give accuracy, understanding, and fills the gaps in their body knowledge. In a physiotherapy assessment, this helps to give a rough a timeline for recovery so we can set realistic goals and keep children motivated to do some form of exercise.
Help the child rehabilitate
Whether it’s ice, a hot bath, gentle movement, taking them out of their sport for a period of time and/or seeing a health care professional, training kids to take care of their bodies after an injury is a lifelong lesson and helps to prevent recurring injury.
Give the child independence and accountability when exercising
Whether on the soccer field, doing a dance warm-up, or carrying out physiotherapy home exercises, it is very beneficial for kids to learn about their muscles and movement. Ask questions like “Which muscles are getting tired?” or “Do you feel like that was your best form?” or “How could you use your body/muscles to do that better?”. These will help give a child body awareness and which will lead to improved performance. Verbal cues like these help kids to be introspective and evaluate themselves the next time!
No matter what type of activity you do with your kids, either in active play in the backyard or competitive sports, it’s important to start a dialogue with them about their bodies. If we encourage body awareness and understanding of body structures while they are young, we are helping them to:
- more accurately express themselves when asked
- advocate for themselves when injured; especially when it comes to peer pressure on the playground or with participation in sports
- prevent re-injury through rehabilitation
- improve their quality and technique during exercise to positively affect performance
About Julie Paul
Julie is a pediatric physiotherapist working at Kids Physio Group’s Vancouver and North Vancouver locations. She is passionate about treating kids and helping them get back to sport and activity following injury. For more information about Julie, click here!