To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing as a concerned paediatric physiotherapist about the increasing number of repetitive strain and overuse injuries happening as a result of week-long quadmester physical education classes at the high school level.
Since beginning the quadmester style of teaching this school year, I have seen a number of clients accessing care because of new-onset injuries occurring during their “gym week.” In many cases otherwise inactive teenagers are experiencing a sharp increase in volume and intensity of physical activity that their bodies are unprepared for. At the other end of the spectrum, high-level athletes are having to modify (and in some cases withdraw from) their sports because of the additional physical stress after 5 full days of gym class. Most of the young adults that I have seen have said they’re unable to participate in their activities outside of school because of the volume experienced during the day. While I am the first person to advocate for regular physical activity, this goes beyond the fitness level of even our most athletic kids, and more balance is needed to ensure they’re still able to enjoy their time outside of school.
I understand that physical education teachers have been put in a position where they need to complete a curriculum and are providing some opportunity for rest with health education and yoga-style recovery periods. We stand by the teachers who have had to make immeasurable changes to the way they do their job, however, at this critical time period for growth in a teenager's development, this volume, intensity and duration of physical activity are doing more harm than good for their bodies.
Canada’s physical activity guidelines support 60-minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day for youth 12-17 years old, and strength training three times per week. Physical education classes should be geared toward creating healthy habits for the body, which includes rest, recovery, and learning the signs of overuse.
I am urging the boards of education to consider a more balanced approach to physical education delivery to promote healthy activity habits in the long term for these young adults should the quadmesters continue in the 2021/22 school year.
Yours in health,
Stephanie Sollazzo and the entire CONNECT team
Stephanie Sollazzo is a Registered Physiotherapist, wife, mother, yoga teacher, and self-professed lover of homemade Italian food (especially when her sons make the noodles). She is passionate about helping moms return to activity after pregnancy, and working with children of all ability levels. If you can't find Steph at CONNECT, the only place to look for her is on a beach. To book an appointment with Stephanie, click here