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Physical Education – Enjoy it at your best

Newcastle Podiatry - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Kids in Sport 2014

With access to so many forms of sport, physical and social activities these days it would seem hard to imagine a child that doesn’t get enough exercise purely due to availability. This is perhaps true. Schools have from my experience changed the model under which these activities take place with more focus on motor skills than purely physical education hence allowing a more inclusive environment. 

With the embracement of technology we also see a change in habits in the home that may see our children more sedentary and hence the need for more active physical education programs. Some children purely don’t wish to participate in physical education programs for various reasons. One of the overriding factors I have seen is poor lower limb function and gross motor skills. 

Put simply children who are less stable in there running, walking and playing will be less likely to join in. They may be slower in a running race or less able to catch and pass the football or netball. This may or may not be accompanied by issues regarding obesity, which in my view is often blamed for lack of activity rather the fact that the child will simply find it hard to run due of a flattened foot type or internally rotated hip position. Most children simply want to join in. 

Every child must be comfortable to achieve in an environment in which physical education assists them to develop and grow. But they must also have the right machinery under which to participate. Poor muscle tone (hypotonia), flexibility (hypermobility) and poor biomechanics all create a child that may decline participation and gravitate to activities that can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Ensuring that our children are comfortable in their play and sport is vitally important. Optimising lower limb function to assist doing this is one of the most pertinent factors to achieve this. Not every child needs an orthotic to do this. I know at our practice hip, core and lower limb rehabilitation are commonly given in isolation as a physical therapy to aid enjoyment in activity. An appropriate podiatric approach and a broad range of experience with biomechanics are important to enable this to happen. 

Physical education continues to be a vital part of our children’s growth and school years, so let’s help them enjoy it at their best.

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