The first time you wake in the middle of the night to the sound of your child complaining of leg soreness, it can be disconcerting. Most likely, though, your child is experiencing growing pains, harmless muscle cramps that occur among children as young as two and as old as 12. Beckee Biasi, DNP, a board-certified family nurse practitioner with OakLeaf Clinics, says most cases resolve within a year or two and offers these suggestions for reducing the temporary discomfort:
- Before bed, soak your child’s legs in a warm bath, preferably with Epsom salts and drops of lavender.
- Rest a heating pad on your child’s legs during story time, or massage his or her legs before bed to release some of the tension.
- Encourage your child to stretch as much as possible. (See “A Bit of a Stretch,” below.)
“If the pain persists into the daytime—or is accompanied by swelling, a fever, or soreness in the joints—it’s likely something else,” Biasi says. “In that case, you should go see a pediatrician.”
A BIT OF A STRETCH
These simple, 30-second leg stretches could alleviate your child’s soreness and increase flexibility. As recommended by the American Council on Exercise, here’s how to demonstrate them.
- Butterfly pose: With your feet together and your knees pointed out, use your elbows to gradually move your knees closer to the ground.
- The great wall: To stretch the hamstrings, lie flat and raise one leg against a wall, with your toes pointed toward the body while extending both arms outward. Switch legs and repeat.
- Join the band: Sit with your legs flat on the ground, and then wrap a resistance band above your heels, with one end of the band in each hand. Pull the band tighter, until your toes are