Growing Pains

Myth: Growing hurts.

Debunked: “Growing pains do not exist,” says Reff. He presents the following scenario. A right-handed kid who is going through a growth spurt has pain on his/her left side. “’It must be growing pains,’ the parent tells me, so I look at them and say, ‘Well isn’t the other side growing just as fast?’ If it hurts to grow,” explains Reff, “then it would hurt all over.” If the left leg hurts when you are a right-handed pitcher, it’s because the athlete is throwing off his left leg and is, generally speaking, a “tight” individual who is overusing the left side. “They think they are as strong as superman and have the endurance of a marathon runner; but when you ask them to straighten their legs out, they can’t do it.”

The “W”

Myth: Children should not sit in a “W” position with their knees pointing forward and their feet pointing backwards.

Debunked: “There is nothing wrong with it and it doesn’t cause any problems,” says Dr. Richard Reff, Kensington-based pediatric orthopedic surgeon. The reality is that 65 percent of the population has the ability to rotate their hips inward so it’s easier for the majority of the population to sit in a “W” position than it is to sit in a crossed-legged position. “Another reason that yoga isn’t for everyone,” says Reff. The myth is based on hospital studies of people with cerebral palsy who have muscular issues that affect their hips.

Cracking Knuckles

Myth: Cracking knuckles causes arthritis.

Debunked: “No one really knows what it is,” says Reff. “It doesn't do anything. I tell people it was designed to drive mothers crazy.”

Pronating Feet 

Myth: Pronation is bad.

Debunked: Termed "bad" by athletic equipment manufacturers, Reff says pronating feet are not “bad or good," they are just what our feet do when we move. Pronation is the rolling of the foot (for “push off”) from the outside of the heel to the big toe that takes place when taking a step. “You are supposed to pronate,” says Reff who adds, "Shoes are actually orthotics. Most running shoes are made to prevent overpronation of the foot. If not fitted with the right shoe, the shoe could make your foot supinate (roll outward) and then you are at risk of turning your ankle. Typically this is what happens when you are fitted by someone who does not correctly fit shoes." Marina Fradlin, owner of Shoe Train,  agrees with Reff. “If you are fitted correctly by an expert, he will be able to find the right shoe for your particular foot so that you or your child is not at risk for injury?injury incurred because of a poorly fit shoe.”

The Heel

Myth: High heels are bad for you.

Debunked: Expert shoe fitters know that the heeled shoe is not “bad” for all women. In fact, says Reff, a person with a very high arched foot is actually more comfortable when wearing a heel than when wearing a flat shoe. People with high arches run the risk of injury, from shin splints to foot and heel pain to planter faciitis and stress fractures; children with high arches who are wearing an improperly fitted shoe will suffer a lot of pain. A heel can actually eliminate the pain.

Stretching & Flexibility

Myth: When you stretch before a game/workout, you will be more flexible.

Debunked: Stretching before a game can warm up the body but it cannot make you more flexible for the game. “When I think a patient needs more flexibility as part of their healing regime, I suggest that stretching?independent of sports?should be part of a daily routine. Stretching before sports is for a warm up, not for the net-gain of flexibility.

Cari Shane is a freelance writer and has published in a variety of national and local media outlets. She lives in Montgomery County where she is raising three children and a dog. She and her business partner, Julie Schumacher, own sasse agency, a PR, marketing and social media company.