Bone Health – and our kids

Bone Health – and our kids

Let’s talk about bone health in our young athletes.

As we approach the summer months, our kids are heading into basketball and athletics season and getting back into full training demands. At this point it is important to remind ourselves that as much as we want our young prodigy to perform at their best, we also want to be aware of the risks associated with high volumes of training.

Bone stress injuries (BSI) are classified as an overuse injury caused by repetitive mechanical stress which exceeds how fast the bone can adapt and re-model. The rehabilitation process from a bone stress injury is quite lengthy and requires a very gradual return to sport.

Recent studies of the adolescent sporting population, have identified risk factors that are specific to this age group.

The most common risk factor for BSI in this age group is a previous BSI. So the only way we can prevent this being a risk factor is by preventing bone stress injury in the first instance.

Unique risk factors for females were low body mass index (less than 19kgm), late menarche and a background of gymnastics/dance as a child. These factors directly impact bone density and development.

Risk factors for males were high volumes of running and greater competitiveness (measured by pace), driving them to push harder than bones may be prepared for.

One study also found that females were more likely to develop a BSI in the tibia (shin bone) and males were more likely to injure the metatarsals (mid-forefoot).

There is good news though!

The same study found that sports such as basketball, actually provide healthy load to the bone, allowing for adequate re-modelling to occur.

Studies on bone density in adult populations have shown that lower limb strengthening and jumping programs have a positive influence on bone health. Not enough studies have been done to specifically say that these types of programs could help adolescents, but it is fair to say a cross-training approach would benefit bone health and assist overall performance.

If body weight (or eating disorder) have been identified as a risk factor for your athlete, it is important to consult with a Sports Physician. Fuelling the body for exercise and recovery (with the right foods) is critical for bone health in this age group.

With the summer sport season fast approaching, if you have concerns for your athlete, please feel welcome to come in and discuss the road ahead.

Call (08) 9295 2381 or book online here.

Amy Zappavigna


Amy has integrated her clinical skills and Pilates knowledge into treating and managing her client’s injuries. She enjoys getting people active and on the right path to achieving their fitness and functional goals.

In her spare time, Amy is training for her next triathlon or running around the field umpiring amateur football.

Treating Running Injuries
Rehabilitating Spinal Pain.