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Working with Adolescent Athletes

Submitted by on April 15, 2009 – 10:36 amNo Comment

When working with a teenage (adolescent) athlete, the very first thing I ask them is “how much have you grown in the last year?”.  Here’s why…

The peak muscle growth takes place about 1 year after the adolescent male has his peak skeletal growth rate.  So basically their muscles and fascia are being stretched from the inside of their body like an internal torture rack!  Decreased flexibility from growth spurts will invariably lead to hamstring and low back strains, and tendonitis in the achilles and patellar tendons.

How can we help with massage?  First with slow, broad myofascial release in the fiber direction of the muscles and connective tissue.  By applying a broad, sustained force on the connective tissue, it will trigger a deformation of the tissue to a new resting length.  I will work the structures involved with the client’s complaint, but will also include work on the thoracolumbar fascia, obliques, lumbar erectors, quadratus lumborum, and glutes.

Once we have achieved a release of the tight myofascia, I recommend gentle stretching to improve overall muscle resting length.  Key muscles to stretch are the gluteus maximus and medius, hamstrings, hip flexors, adductors and quadriceps.  Improving flexibility in these muscles will free-up the pelvis and remove tension off the low back.  Keep in mind they will be very stiff at the beginning, and stretching will probably feel uncomfortable.  I prefer a mixture of gentle muscle energy techniques and static stretching to keep the discomfort to a minimum.

Be patient with the progress.  You will often find a client who has grown 4-6 inches in less than a year.  The muscles will catch up and you can help reduce their discomfort and chance of injury along the way.


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