Growing Pains – New and Old by Dina Ramon
In our family, growing pains are shared by daughter and mother. Complaints of legs and feet that ache have been part of my daughter’s bedtime several times a week for months. This makes for a restless 7-year-old who struggles to fall asleep, no matter how tired she is. For me, it’s when the morning alarm goes off that my body dreads; waking up stiff and sore makes it harder than usual to get out of bed. I guess you could say it’s growing vs. ‘maturity’ pains. When my daughter first starting complaining that her legs hurt – always just as she was about to go to sleep – I was worried. Was it a pulled muscle? What if she had a blood clot or something serious like that? I had certainly heard of growing pains and came to realize that was the likely cause but I made the wrong assumption about what they are. I mistakenly thought that growing pains are just what they sound like: pain caused by bones and joints that are growing rapidly in a small body. To me that made sense; my daughter often seems to literally, grow overnight. Her little body has morphed over just the past few months into more of a pre-tween shape. Apparently growing pains often signal a growth spurt. And she is certainly eating more to fuel that growth. What I learned however, is that growing pains are confined to the muscles and often the result of a lot of physical activity like climbing, running or jumping. That certainly describes my daughter. From school to camp to everything in between, she is constantly moving and doing sports-related activities and games. To treat the achiness associated with her growth spurt pain, the best options are obvious ones – a kid-friendly pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help, as well as a heating pad. Massage is good too, and that has been the pain reliever of choice for my daughter to loosen up her aching calf and thigh muscles. She is a smart cookie, my daughter. I’d certainly take a pre-bedtime massage every night if I could. I try to work out in some fashion almost every day and I am pretty good about stretching, but the joints of us physically active older gals take a beating over time. I am increasingly stiff when I wake up which makes me less inclined to feel like working out in the morning. Yoga helps somewhat with that, but I experience ‘morning after’ yoga soreness on some days, too. In addition to my daughter’s 30-second neck and shoulder massage (she has strong hands for a 7-year-old but loses focus), I also must rely on ibuprofen and the heating pad. I can only hope that we both ‘outgrow’ our growing pains sometime soon but if I had to place a bet on older mom vs. young whippersnapper, I’m going with the bounceback kid.