Sports and Bowlegs

Infants frequently have bowlegs and as they age into early childhood they develop knock knees. The development of bowlegs during late childhood is unusual and often is associated with load bearing sports participation. Although physical activity is healthy the participation in certain sports that stress the lower skeleton of children can lead to knee changes (bow legs/ genu varum) which can increase the tendency to develop osteoarthritis and overuse syndromes later in life. Certain sport activities appear to cause an imbalance in leg and hip muscles which can change the alignment of the leg bones. Recent finding suggest for boys sports that require intense and frequent running, sidestepping and crossover cutting exert stress on the knee and appear to lead to changes that predispose the athlete to future problems. Future studies will be needed to see if the same pattern is seen for girls.
The key intervention to prevent imbalance is to focus on preservation of neuromuscular balance. This is something all the best exercise gurus have been touting for years. By changing up your work-out regimen and building up all the core, leg and hip muscles it can be hoped that the knee symmetry will be maintained and the incidence of bowlegs in adulthood and future secondary associated problems would be reduced.
So how do you do this? Allow boys and girls to participate in and try out many types of sports and engage in different physical activities. Activities such as dance, yoga, gymnastics and martial arts focus on the entire proximal and distal skeletal and muscular systems. Try to work these activities into your child’s schedule. Too much of one sport may not be best for a developing child.