Back to school
As the shorter days start to roll in, the early signs of our gardens getting ready for Autumn appear with it come the hustle bustle of a new academic year for our young people whether it be a new year at school, a new school, off to college or university, the start of a new job or returning to our old one after a relaxing break. However, we need to be aware of the potential harm we could cause our spines:
and eye tests are probably all on your list to ensure your youngsters get off to the best start - but more and more parents are realising the importance of having their child's spine checked by a chiropractor.
Worry about heavy school bags and the increase time spent on their technology from phones to play stations is concerning parents as children slouch over their gadgets - let the chiropractors help you support them in preventing long term problems for their spines- Give us a call today.
Dangers of Back Pain at School
Children are back in the classrooms, running around playgrounds and playing sports and children, like adults, can be prone to back pain, and there can be several causes:
- Lack of exercise or excessive exercise
- Weight of school bags
- Bad posture
- Poorly set up desks
- Use of a computer or computer games
- Sports injuries
- Ill-fitting shoes/improper shoes
Lack of exercise and excessive exercise
The general finding from various studies is that children involved in competitive sports and those who are sedentary are more prone to getting low back pain while those that participated in moderate activity were protected. The children involved in competitive sports run the risk of getting repetitive strain injuries. Those children who are sedentary are often those who sit and watch a lot of television or play on a computer. The implication of this will be discussed below.
Weight of school bags
School bags are exceptionally heavy for those attending secondary school due to the number of different subjects covered and therefore the number of textbooks required and the fact the children often have to move between classes. Not all children have access to lockers, which mean that books have to carried with them. Bags carried on one shoulder causes an asymmetry of the body and therefore certain muscles will have to tighten and others lengthen in order to carry the bag. These kind of imbalances can cause long-term problems.
All aspects of life can induce bad posture; lack of exercise, weight of school bags, spending too much time playing computer games or on the computer, incorrect shoes, and growth. Those children who grow faster and become taller than their peers may slouch in order to not tower above their friends and this can ultimately lead to bad posture.
Poorly set up desks
Whether at school or home, ill fitting desks can lead to bad posture. School desks and chairs cannot cater for individual heights of children and, as mentioned earlier, the children often have to move between classes. The desks and chairs are uniform and unable to be altered to the child’s individual needs. Guidance on correct desk set up should be implemented at home; not just for the kids but also for everyone in the family who uses the desk. At school this can’t be done, but by advising the child to sit upright and not to slouch and not to cross the legs will help.
Use of a computer or computer games
Any body position requires certain muscles to shorten and others to lengthen. This occurs every time we move. If we were to stay in one position for too long those muscles will eventually stay that particular length. When children play on computer games it quite often requires time. This leads to the above situation with muscles. Children should be encouraged to not spend longer than 30-40 minutes at any one time playing games, using a computer, or even doing homework before having a break. The child should spend a few minutes walking around and then returning to the game/homework by reviewing their posture and sitting correctly.
Those children who play a lot of sport and those who play contact sports such as rugby may be injured either by direct contact or by overuse of certain muscles. If a child is injured it is advisable that they are seen by a chiropractor as problems unresolved can lead to compensations, ie walking differently due to sprained ankle leading to low back pain, a rugby tackle causing neck pain and headaches.
Ill-fitting shoes/improper shoes
Children are conscious of fashion, which can affect their shoe wear. Girls particularly may wear shoes with a high heel. This causes the calf muscles to shorten and pushes the body forward. To prevent falling over the girl would have to lean back and causing an increase in the low back curvature which can not only cause low back pain but also pain between the shoulder blades.
Wearing improperly fitting shoes can cause many problems from blisters, pressure sores and ingrowing toenails in the short-term, to feet deformities like hammer toe, and knee and posture problems in the long-term. It can take up to 18 years for feet to fully develop, so teenagers feet need to be looked after just as much as younger children’s.
Shoes should be the correct size and offer the right amount of support. When purchasing new shoes, get the child’s feet correctly sized by the shop assistant and ensure that the shoes are the correct length as well as width.
Here’s some advice to help your child:
- Rucksacks should be worn across both shoulders and the straps adjusted so the bag is held close to the body.
- If a locker is available, encourage your child to use it and ensure they only take the books and equipment needed for that day.
- Check their shoes are correctly fitted, supported, relatively flat, and are not too worn.
- Encourage your child to enjoy regular exercise, such as swimming and cycling.
- Use of the computer, playing computer games and homework should be in blocks of no more than 30-40 minutes. Advise them to have a little walk before returning and again that they sit with their shoulders down and back (not slumped) and their legs are uncrossed.
- Please contact us if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort, or even just to get a check up.
Become A Morning Person and Getting Your Brain Working To Start Your Day
Summer holidays allow the chance of a lie in but getting your kids motivated, up and ready for school is a whole new challenge that you really don't want in the mornings.
How about sit down with your children over the weekend and discuss what they are going to make themselves for breakfast, Offer suggestions of a healthy start with lots of protein. Complex carbohydrates and fruit smoothies. Try and avoid sugary cereal and spreads for their toast - this will make them irritable and tired mid-morning. Make sure they have a healthy snack for break time to keep them going till lunch and access to plenty of water.
Try these tips to get them and yourselves up:
Wake up gradually
Many people become irritated by sudden and annoying alarm sounds. Start your day in a better mood by downloading an app that wakes you more gradually, with music or with a tone that gradually increases in volume, easing you in to your morning routine.
At this time of year, light alarm clocks are especially beneficial. These wake you with a gradually brightening light that simulates sunrise. Waking up naturally and gradually this way is much more welcome than being shocked out of a sound sleep.
Nourish your body
Feeling groggy, or even as if you have a hangover, isn’t uncommon when your alarm sounds. However, this may not be caused by tiredness. Bearing in mind that you have not consumed any food or drink for at least 7 hours (hopefully!), you may be dehydrated.
Keep a bottle of water by your bed to drink first thing. If you’re a coffee drinker, try to have a glass or two of water before your brew.
It’s also important to replenish your body with nutrients after a night’s sleep. Avoid opting for high-sugar and high-carbohydrate foods that will cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop just a couple of hours later. Instead, build your breakfast around complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, proteins such as eggs, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Having a nutritious, filling and enjoyable breakfast to look forward can also be a great motivator to get out of bed!
Whether you’re a yogi, gym-goer or enjoy a revitalizing morning stroll, exercising in the morning will get your heart pumping oxygen-rich blood around your body, helping you to function more effectively. Exercise can also be a great way to clear your mind, preparing your for a productive and more stress-free morning, and obviously has huge benefit to your health.
Introduce these tips to your morning routine, aiming to commit for at least 21 days. This will help you to form healthy habits that both your mind and body will thank you for!
Keeping Technology Healthy for Kids
Kids can be at risk from suffering back or neck pain due to sedentary lifestyles and the excessive use of technology.
Findings from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) show that 40% of 11 to 16 year olds in the UK have experienced back or neck pain. More than one in seven (15%) parents said their son’s or daughter’s pain is a result of using a laptop, tablet or computer.
The research revealed that almost three quarters (68%) of 11 to 16 year olds spend between one and four hours a day on a laptop, tablet or computer and 73% spend between one and six hours on the devices. More than a third (38%) of parents said their child spends between one and six hours a day on their mobile phone.
Chiropractors are now noticing a rise in the number of young people presenting with neck and back problems due to their lifestyle choices. We would encouraging parents to limit the time their children spend using technology and instead encourage more active pastimes.
Based on a two hour period, young people spend more time on games consoles (33%) than doing an activity like riding a bicycle (12%). When asked how much time their teenager spends on their bicycle, one in five (21%) parents admitted that they don’t have one.
Nearly half (46%) of parents questioned, acknowledged that their children don’t spend enough time exercising, despite NHS guidelines stating that children and young people between 5 and 18 years old need to do at least one hour of physical activity every day.
More people under the age of sixteen are being seen with back and neck pain, and technology is so often the cause. Young people are becoming increasingly sedentary which is damaging their posture. There is the tendency to sit in a hunched position when working on computers and laptops, putting a lot of strain on the neck.
Learning how to sit properly and keeping active will help to keep young people healthy and pain free. It’s important that parents seek help for their children from an expert as soon as any pain starts – if conditions are left untreated it could lead to chronic back and neck problems in later life.
The BCA offers the following top tips for parents to help their teenagers reduce the risks of back and neck pain:
- Get your kids moving: The fitter children are, the more their backs can withstand periods of sitting still. To increase fitness levels, your child should be more active which can be achieved by doing activities including walking to school, riding a bike or going for a run.
- Teach them how to sit: It’s important that children learn the correct way to sit when they’re using a computer. Teach them to keep their arms relaxed and close to their body and place arms on the desk when typing. Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way.
- Don’t sit still for too long: Make sure children take a break from the position they’re sitting in on a regular basis and stretch their arms, shrug their shoulders and move their fingers around – this helps to keep the muscles more relaxed.
- Lead by example: Maintaining good posture and promoting good back health is something that everyone should be doing, adults and children alike. If you make it a priority, it’s easier for your children to see the relevance.
- Seek medical advice: Seek professional advice if your child is experiencing pain which has lasted for more than a few days. If your child wants to be more active, check that there are no medical reasons why they should not exercise, particularly if they are not normally physically active.