Monday, May 21, 2012

Muscle strengthening and sports

So, I just got back from seeing a pediatric sports medicine doctor for my 12 year old daughter. Turns out she has loose shoulder joints causing the right shoulder to pop out of joint (sublux) for no reason. This happens during simple movements such as raising her hand during class. The appointment today inspired me to post about other aspects of Occupational Therapy that are important to children and their overall development. The physician said that with proper shoulder and back exercises, my daughter's shoulders would become stronger and would, thereby, pop out less. Now, I feel that I should mention that my daughter is a soccer player and does summer swimming, so she is a somewhat athletic child. She is not the perverbial couch potato. She just happens to have hyper mobile shoulder joints and needs to focus on exercises that strengthen her shoulders. Soccer, does not provide a lot of opportunities to strengthen the shoulders. It is important for children to be active. Sports, whether organized or not, provide great opportunities for children to increase their strength, endurance, balance and overall well being. It is, however, important for children to be well rounded in their sports playing, for many reasons. Focusing on one sport at an early age, and playing only that sport year round can lead to overuse injuries. Focusing on one sport, focuses on certain muscle groups and can lead to injury. It is beneficial to switch sports throughout the year. For example, do soccer in fall and spring, swimming in winter and summer. That way, your child will use different muscle groups allowing the others to take a break between seasons. When switching sports, it is important for your child to "ease" into the new sport, allowing his/her muscles to adapt to the new movements. In the next couple posts, we will provide fun, safe, movement activities and games for children to do to maintain a strong, healthy body.


  1. Hi Barb and Chelsea!
    I just happened upon your blog and I'm thrilled to follow it to get new ideas for my 3-year-old daughter (and also feel like I am somehow still connected to IU13--miss it!). Glad to have found you--thanks!

    I just wanted to mention that I am sorry about your daughter's shoulders--not sure which of you has a 12-year-old daughter? Hope she is feeling better soon!

    I could have a completely different situation form your daughter, but my shoulders were hypermobile at that age, too. It wasn't until my early twenties that they started fully dislocating, along with most of my other other joints (ouch). I was later diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Hypermobility Type--a genetic condition that most doctors are not familiar with but that causes ones' connective tissue to be like chewing gum.

    I wanted to pipe up, because any strengthening actually makes my hypermobility far worse and causes more pain and dislocations. I spent too many years unknowingly making it far worse. Just wanted to make sure that folks understand the REASON behind the hypermobility before assuming strengthening/resistance work will be helpful.

    take care--hope you both are well!
    Julie Roberts Witmer

  2. Julie, so glad you happened upon our blog! Hope everything is going well with you.
    It was my daughter that has hyper mobility. We have been going to Dupont and yesterday we went to a sports medicine doctor and also to the genetic doctor. She diagnosed her with benign hyper mobility. It is VERY important that any child with super mobile joints get checked before starting strengthening exercises. Young children should not be using weights, gravity or a soup can will do (no more than 3 pounds).
    My daughter's right shoulder (non-dominant) dislocates daily. It just started in Sept. For her, strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder will,, hopefully, help to keep her shoulders in place. I thought of you when this started, knowing your situation.
    Keep checking our blog and post when you want!

  3. Hey Barb,
    Shoulders are tricky--they are just such an amazingly complicated joint! I've done every strengthening exercise in the book, only to learn (for me) it was actually making me dislocate more. I have also realized that if I keep the joint cool with ice when I start to feel my internal temp rise, rather than allowing it to warm up (and therefore become more loose), I am better off.

    If your daughter ever needs a brace to help keep her shoulder in place, I can show you my cornucopia of options! Tell her if nothing else, it's a great party trick!

    Great to hear from you. Send my love to the gang!