Do you remember when you would ride your bike with your friends or have great conversations sitting with your pal in your tree house? Goofing around and flexing your “play muscles?” As adults, we tend to forget that these simple, natural movements are an integral part of motor skill development. This stage in life is the beginning to truly finding yourself inside your awkward, adolescent body. But, more importantly, the unorganized movements actually help to promote mind-body centering and body awareness development so that they can prevent injuries and a lifetime of chronic pain.
Children are coming into my office with aches and pains. Some, I believe, are in growth transitions, where their bone structure is changing so rapidly that their joints are trying to synchronize and align. While this is just temporary, other injuries are repetitive strains due to sports. Kids nowadays are signed up for numerous year-round sports—school and travel teams, multiple practices, and separate conditioning sessions filling each day, week, and month. It’s inevitable that children will injure themselves as they’re beginning to come into themselves, and it’s our job as parents and teachers to help seek out an injury and ultimately prevent them.
Whether it’s on the courts or fields, parents are continually pushing their kids to their utmost potential. However, they’re unknowingly beating these little bodies down with each cheer and constructive criticism. Why? Kids just want to make you happy, they want to accomplish the dreams you’ve helped create and foster for them. If we’re not vigilant with our children’s bodies then we’re subliminally teaching them poor self-care habits, which can potentially lead to a lifetime of pain.
Communication is crucial when our bodies are involved. We need to feel the discomfort and know that it’s not normal and something that needs to be addressed right away. This is a form of self-care we are neglecting and our bodies are taking a beating because our mind is telling us “we are fine.” This mind game is where the split between thoughts and the body occur. We’ve become so good at numbing ourselves to the pain that we end up inadvertently inhibiting ourselves from fostering any sort of prevention tactics—we no longer are feeling our bodies. This creates a litany of problems, physically and mentally. We want the best for our kids, I understand, but what if we build them up and set them on the path of moderation and balance, teaching them that there’s a fine line between sucking it up and taking care of the aches and pains.
Self -determination is a wonderful quality, but so is teaching the importance of self-preservation. This trait is integral to one’s energy body, especially for those that are young. If they’re able to harness this trait then they will be able to remain balanced, centered, and ready for pro status should the opportunity arise. A mindset of self-awareness will ultimately help prevent injuries and burnout. We can’t continue to over service our children with so many sports and activities while forgetting the importance of imagination to reduce their mindset of boredom.
Sports are great, but not when it’s hurting our bodies. Teaching self-care is a valuable lifetime tool that can only enhance their future careers, whether it’s on or off the field.