My youth was spent sprinting across fields, building dens, riding my bike dizzyingly fast down country lanes and swimming in the River Avon.  We didn’t need to join clubs; we were constantly exhausted and ravenous.

Now though, my family week is peppered with ‘extracurricular’ activities.  We are outdoorsy, active people so it comes as no surprise that our son’s life is mostly spent in sports kit (the ugliness of said kit needs to be explored in a blog of its own!).  He did toy with drumming and guitar when he was younger but never really had the solitary discipline for that.  A week long Band Club one summer holiday where they had too many drummers, and the boy had to sing ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ because nobody else would, put paid to any Rock Star ambitions.  I still have the video of the performance and will use it as ammunition in the future if bad behaviour warrants it.  He wouldn’t want that on his Facebook page!

What they don’t tell you in The Extracurricular Activity Handbook for Overly Competitive Parents is that there is such a thing as too much sport. The boy went through an early growth spurt at the end of years 7 & 8.  It was quite alarming really.  Literally one morning he walked through the bedroom door with a gruff voice and a moustache, just like in Big. I was actually a bit scared momentarily wondering who this stranger was in our midst.

Unfortunately, his bones had grown but some of his muscles hadn’t caught up (bless). What has followed is periods of inactivity when he is not able to play sport; he has Osgood Schlatters disease.  It actually sounds much more dramatic and exciting than it is, and is not really a disease, but a syndrome.  The quadriceps muscle is not yet long enough and so puts undue pressure on the patellar tendon over the knee.  This, in turn, pulls on the shin bone and can cause a lump to appear where the bone keeps repairing itself as the tendon pulls.  It mainly happens to very sporty children and is more common in boys.  Some statistics claim 1 in 3 active boys will get it at some stage.

Too Much Too Young

So, What you can do to avoid Osgood Schlatters?

It is recommended that children have a day of rest between sporting activities.  So, playing football Friday and Saturday, rugby (Club and County) Sunday and Tuesday, athletics Thursday plus trampolining and PE at school was not a good idea? Not really it transpires.

Stretches are important.  A good stretching routine is essential to keep muscles flexible, especially those quadriceps.   Massaging helps too. If your son or daughter does get Osgood Schlatters don’t just ignore it – it needs to be treated or your child needs to rest from sport otherwise, as we found it, it can get much worse and can even have implications into adulthood.

Go to a podiatrist in case fallen arches are contributing to the problem.  Shoe inners can help to take the strain off of the knee.  A few visits to a physiotherapist should help too although ultrasound is not recommended on growth plates. Any sports clubs which your children attend should be able to recommend a good sports physio until you get your NHS appointment.

Our son was off sport for months and, let me tell you, a 13 year old who is defined by sport, on crutches, is not a happy bunny.  He even asked if he could take up the guitar again but he settled for starting his exam studies early – he should do well in his Hedonism and Lethargy GCSE! Perhaps his Rock Star ambitions would have been a safer bet after all.