Has your child ever complained of their legs aching late in the evening?
Maybe it was more than an ache… more along the lines of cramping. Perhaps they woke up in the middle of the night crying because the pain was so bad.
This sort of thing can be concerning to parents who’ve never dealt with anything like it before, especially if you’re not sure what’s causing it.
Thankfully, most times it’s no big deal. Those mysterious evening/night time pains are what’s referred to as “growing pains”.
Today I’m going to be giving you a basic rundown of what “growing pains” are, what’s most likely causing them, and some natural things you can do to help your child get over them without OTC pain relievers.
All About Growing Pains
Growing pains actually have nothing to do with growth spurts… at least that’s what medical professionals think. They get their name “growing pains” because they occur in children ages 3-5 and then again around ages 8-12… both common ages for children to experience significant growth spurts.
Most growing pains are located in the muscles of the legs and feel like a muscle cramp. They don’t have anything to do with the bones or joints although sometimes they can occur behind the knees or kids will say it feels like their tibia or “shin bone” (the bone on the top of your leg between your knee and ankle) hurts (Dowshen, 2012).
What Causes Growing Pains & What Can Be Done To Help
Doctors aren’t really sure what causes growing pains, but they do think it has something to do with the level of activity a child has had during the day. Growing pains usually happen when a kid has been walking, running, climbing, jumping, swimming, or doing a lot of physical activity earlier on in the day.
As far as treatment goes, most doctors assure parents that it will pass as their kid gets older and often suggest a pain reliever like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen). Sometimes you may get lucky and have a doctor recommend a warm bath or a massage, but my guess is that’s rare.
More natural-minded folks would agree that physical activity is linked with growing pains, but instead of ignoring the problem or covering up the symptoms, they tend to look for the root cause and take action there.
Besides, pain is a signal that something isn’t right in the body. I was taught that in nursing school so I’m not sure why some doctors don’t acknowledge that and address it more often.
So what’s going on in your child’s body when they experience growing pains?
From the research I’ve done on this topic, it seems like little Johnny has used a ton of energy playing that day and most likely depleted his vitamin and mineral supply which his body needs to function properly, especially when it comes to muscle building and repair.
You see, the body uses certain vitamins and minerals like vitamins a, b, c, d, and e as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium to build, maintain, and repair muscles in the body. If the body is low on these micronutrients, symptoms like muscle cramps can occur (Rodriguez, 2010). Even with a healthy diet, we can sometimes have nutrient deficiencies.
If your child suffers from growing pains often, along with looking into dietary changes you can make to ensure your child is getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in their diet, you may also want to look into supplementing with a good quality multi-vitamin. Look into the following series I wrote on children’s nutrition for more information on nutrients and supplements and how to get them from food or a supplement.
Now, diets and supplements aside, there are some other natural options you can implement to help your child through an episode growing pains without reaching for OTC meds first.
4 Natural Options For Treating Growing Pains In Children
When your child’s legs ache in the evenings, they’re restless, can’t sleep, and not themselves, let’s choose to take a little time to care for them. Let’s soothe them with warmth, herbs, and essential oils. Let’s tell them what we think is going on… tell them it will be okay and that we love them.
All of these things will help relax their bodies and soothe their pains aways.
Below are 4 things you can do to help relieve the pain of growing pains naturally.
You’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well giving your kids a homemade electrolyte drink is the first step in prevention.
If you know they’re going to be playing hard during the day, offering them a healthy electrolyte drink throughout the day is a must. Not only does it keep them hydrated, but it keeps their mineral levels from being depleted, which could result in growing pains later that night.
Now, even if you didn’t prepare ahead and have your kiddo sip on one of these electrolyte drinks during the day, no worries. If it’s late at night or you don’t have time to whip up a batch of homemade electrolytes, you can simply give your child a small amount of water with the ConTrace trace mineral drops in it.
2. Herbal Minerals
Herbal minerals are another great way to get extra minerals in your kiddo quickly, and the great thing is that they’re from a food source… herbs! This is something you’ll want to have made up ahead of time, but it’s totally worth it and works great.
The recipe below is for an herbal vinegar. Vinegar does a great job at extracting minerals from herbs.
Also, feel free to add other mineral-rich herbs to this recipe if you’d like, and know that once this mineral vinegar is made, it will last 2-3 years.
Herbal Minerals Vinegar
- 1 part oatstraw (calcium, magnesium, silicon, sodium)
- 1 part nettle (calcium, magnesium, potassium)
- 1 part red raspberry leaf (calcium, iron, magnesium)
- 1 part sage (calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium)
- raw apple cider vinegar
3. Heat & Essential Oils
Heat is great for relieving pain… specifically muscle pain. When using heat for growing pains, you have two options.
- Warm bath
- Warm compress
Both of these options on their own are great, but when you add in the benefits of essential oils, specifically essential oils to help with growing pains, you can help your kiddo relax a bit more. Here’s how to do it.
Here’s how to do it.
First, you can run a tub full of water, add in 1/2 cup of Epsom salts with 3 drops of Plant Therapy’s KidSafe Growing Pains blend in it. Epsom salt is a great way to add EOs to a bath as it helps to dilute the oils in the water, and this EO blend by Plant Therapy takes all the guess work out of it for you. It’s safe for your kids, and the oil combinations really work to relax tense muscles.
If a bath won’t work for whatever reason, you can make an herbal compress by infusing chamomile and lavender flowers into some hot water. Chamomile and lavender are two herbs that are very relaxing to the body. CLICK HERE to learn how to make a compress. Once your compress is ready, you can add your Epsom salt and essential oils to it, mix well, and apply it to the painful areas repeatedly to help relax the tense muscles. Just remember to try to keep the rag as warm as possible!
4. A Healing Massage
My last tip for helping relax the pain of growing pains naturally is massage.
Massage is a wonderful healer in and of itself. Physical touch is a love language, and we all need some of it from time to time even if it’s not our primary love language. If your kiddo is suffering from growing pains massage can be a great way to sooth those tired achy muscles.
Like I said earlier, a lot of naturally-minded folks think that the pain from growing pains is related to a mineral deficiency. Magnesium is a common mineral to be deficient in, and it’s also one of the minerals linked to muscle cramps. All this to say, making a homemade magnesium lotion with essential oils added to it can be a great help for kids with growing pains. Now quickly, from what I’ve read online,
All this to say, making a homemade magnesium lotion with essential oils added to it can be a great help for kids with growing pains. Now quickly, from what I’ve read online, magnesium oil is the quickest way at getting magnesium absorbed through the skin, but it can be irritating to some people (especially children) after using it consistently for a while. So, I settled on a lotion. It offers some oils and butters that help to provide a bit more of a barrier, and hopefully not irritate the skin so much.
So if your kids begin to have growing pains frequently, you may want to whip up a small batch of this to use, or purchase a similar one premade here. Just be sure to store it in the fridge to give it a longer shelf-life as it doesn’t contain preservatives!
Growing Pains Magnesium Lotion
Recipe adapted from Wellness Mama Magnesium Body Butter. Yields around 1 cup of lotion. Feel free to cut this recipe in half.
- 1/4 cup sweet almond oil
- 3 TBSP. beeswax
- 3 TBSP. shea butter
- 1/2 cup aloe vera juice
- 1/2 cup magnesium flakes
- 144 – 288 drops (3-5% dilution) of Plant Therapy’s KidSafe Growing Pains synergy blend
- Heat aloe juice over low heat until warm. Stir magnesium flakes into juice until dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat almond oil, beeswax, and shea butter over low heat using a double boiler until wax and butter is melted. Transfer to a 2 cup glass measuring cup.
- Let oils and waxes sit until thickened. Once thickened, begin blending with an immersion blender while slowly pouring in your aloe juice/ magnesium. Blend well.
- Finally, add your drops of essential oils, and blend again. My advice would be to start with the smaller amount and add more if needed. Remember you’re moving from a 3% dilution to a 5% dilution for 8 ounces of lotion… there will be a lot of EO needed for a therapeutic effect. (Dilution rates based on Plant Therapy recommendations.)
- Pour into a glass jar and label. Lotion will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator for 3-6 months.
So there you have it, mama.
If your little one is complaining of growing pains, don’t stress, but certainly don’t ignore it either. Take a good look at your diet and the supplements your little one is taking then try these 4 natural remedies for growing pains to see if you can come up with a good, natural solution for your situation.
Have your children experienced growing pains? Did you try any natural remedies that seemed to help? If so, what were they? Share your stories, successes, and struggles in the comments below.
This post was underwritten by Plant Therapy. All opinions are mine. Plant Therapy offers 100%, pure, undiluted essential oils sourced from some of the top essential oil suppliers in the world. They have single oils and synergy blends as well as a line of synergy blends specific to children. Not only do they offer high-quality essential oils, but they also offer carrier oils, hydrosols, and other essential oil accessories to help you keep yourself and your home naturally healthy.
- Dowshen, S. (2012). Growing Pains. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/aches/growing_pains.html
- Rodriguez, N., DiMarco, N., & Langley, S. (2010, March 1). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/717046_8