*Please note: While this piece was written directed at parents of youth members, adult students should keep all of the relevant safety points in mind. Remember: Safety and vigilance are not ‘things’ to do. They are constant states of mind.
Occasionally, a staff member or I will have a parent come to us with something like: “This past year, my daughter grew six inches and gained 50 pounds. As a result, I had to buy protective gear twice. It’s so expensive and she is heading for another growth spurt. Is all this equipment necessary?”
The answer, honestly, is Yes! You see, a lot more is changing than height and weight. We as parents and teachers easily notice the emotional and physical changes in children as they grow older, however, the mental and skeletal changes we can’t see are just as important and unpredictable. During growth spurts, the bones are growing quicker than the muscles and tendons.
Even as they reach their full height, their skeletal and muscular systems are not fully developed making them vulnerable to injury. During the growth spurts, your child will probably be less coordinated until he or she adjusts to the physical change. This is normal, but can cause injuries if protective gear does not fit properly.
Are you considering buying a larger size so it lasts longer? Please keep in mind that mouth guards are relatively inexpensive, especially considering the protection they offer. Make sure they fit properly and replace them with new ones as needed. Head gear should always fit properly. Tight head gear may cause headaches, but loose head gear my slip and blind a child momentarily from an oncoming punch or not offer the protection where needed. As children advance in martial arts, the foot and hand gear will usually wear out before it can be outgrown. If the foot gear is a little large, consider wearing padded insteps for a better fit. Be certain the fingers fit in the hand gears’ finger tabs.
Periodically check the equipment at all flex or stress points for wear; this is any place the gear bends, flexes or has an air hole. If you have any questions about fit or wear, ask your child’s instructor.
Also, take advantage of the academy’s sales and let friends and relatives know during gift giving holidays like birthdays and Christmas, etc. if there is something they can order from the school that your son or daughter might need.
It not only helps you to keep your child’s gear in top-notch shape, but also shows your child that other members of the family, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. are just as involved and supported of the training as you are.
Also, to assist in preventing bone and muscle injuries during growth spurts, be certain your child warms-up and then stretches before any physical activity. Have them stop if stabbing pain occurs (aching and burning is natural as the muscles are taken to greater ranges).
Stabbing pain is not normal and can cause serious injury. Train your child to avoid continuous repetitious motions that can affect growth development. Call your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have.
Above all, be mindfully aware of safety and the steps needed to protect your most precious assets – the lives of yourself and those you love!