Your youngster suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night complaining of achy legs. You rub their legs, but it doesn’t seem to help.
Sound familiar? It’s likely that your child is experiencing growing pains. If that’s the case, don’t fret – it’s completely normal. Growing pains are muscular achy pains in the legs that normally occur in kids between the ages of 3-12.
Let’s explore the symptoms of growing pains and how you can help your child through this period of growth.
Why do children experience growing pains?
Although we know for a fact that growing pains aren’t related to any health concerns, most physicians don’t know the exact cause of growing pains. And even though they’re called growing pains, there is no real evidence that link them to growing or growth spurts! Weird, right?
But things like running, climbing, jumping, and jogging can wear out children’s muscles, causing them to experience growing pains. So, if your little one is especially active, then you may want to keep an eye out for more intense growing pains as they go from toddler to preteen.
How to spot growing pains in children
Since every child is unique, the intensity of growing pains will differ as well. While some tend to feel pain throughout the day, others may feel mild discomfort or no pain at all.
What to look for:
- Achy, throbbing, and/or burning sensation in the lower extremities (common regions include the thighs, knees, and ankles)
- Complaints of pain in the late afternoon, evening time and at bedtime (sometimes the pain can even wake your child from sleep!)
- Headaches alongside pain in the lower extremities
- Complaints of pain after a day of intense physical activity
What can I do to help alleviate growing pains?
Heating pads are a great way to help your child with the discomfort that comes with growing pains. Place warm heating pads on the painful area(s) until your child feels better or is able to fall asleep. Make sure the heating pad is not too hot and remove the heating pad when your child falls asleep.
Simple stretches before bedtime can also help prevent growing pain at night. A few easy stretches even for the littlest ones include:
- Seated hamstring stretches – Sit on the floor with your legs straight, and try to touch your toes!
- Bow pose – Lie down on your tummy. Raise your head and legs, then stretch your hands back to grab a hold of your ankles.
- Downward dog pose – Start on your hands and knees. As you breathe in, slowly lift your knees up and bum towards the sky. Try to make sure your feet are as flat to the ground as possible. If you’d like, you can peddle your feet.
Eating foods rich in magnesium, like bananas, spinach, almonds, cashews, and dried apricots is another great way to incorporate this muscle-relieving mineral into your child’s diet. If you have a picky eater on your hands, you may have more luck with our highly absorbable, gentle and tasty KIDS Magnesium Chewables or Magnesium Drink Mix!
When should you seek medical help?
Growing pains are known to affect muscles and not joints. So, if you notice any redness or swelling, or if the pain is interfering with your child’s daily activities, be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner.
Running, jumping, and being active are all part of being a kid. So, you may not be able to avoid growing pains altogether. But, you can definitely help your child with these great tips!