Do you have back pain? Do you remember when it started? A lot of our patients don’t, it’s just “crept on over the years”, which often means that it is mistaken as an “older person’s problem”. Unfortunately, back pain is something that is becoming more of a problem in younger generations (one study of 34,076 participants found that over 50% first experienced back pain before the age of 20!)
So why is back pain affecting young people? Let’s divert slightly and talk about teeth for a minute- most babies cut their first tooth at around 6 months old. This is when parents then bring out the baby toothpaste and start encouraging healthy dental hygiene habits. Babies can start to roll from the age of 4 months, and gradually progress through important developmental milestones, but when do we start promoting healthy spine habits in our children? Unfortunately, we don’t. It’s an area that has, and continues to be, overlooked. Our aim is to promote healthy postural habits in children of all ages to help them grow “from little acorns to mighty oaks” and avoid having back, neck and postural pain.
You can help us do this, by continuing to promote healthy habits in your children as they grow up and start going to school. A recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood analysed 1403 children, and found that 61.4% of these children had backpacks that weighed in excess of 10% of the child’s bodyweight! Those carrying the heaviest backpacks and a 50% higher risk of back pain, and girls had a higher risk of back pain in comparison to boys.
What can I do to help?
- Babies: Minimise the amount of time spent in baby equipment. Yes, it’s easier to pop munchkin into a baby carrier so you have your hands free, but babies often spend their time being transferred from bouncer to car seat to baby swing back to car seat, and get very little time to develop the new motor skills that come from being able to wriggle around, practice, and experience using their arms and legs! Occasional use is fine, but just be aware that every minute that little one is in baby equipment, is a minute of lost experience, so try to give them as much wriggle time as possible!
- School aged children: Check your children’s rucksacks when they get in from school- remove any books that don’t need to be there. (A good opportunity to also remove the toys, twigs, sweetie wrappers, stones or anything else that has been “acquired” by kiddo throughout the school day!) Also, don’t underestimate the importance of good footwear. Children are forever running around and supportive, soft-soled shoes with a good grip will make it easier for your little one to carry a school bag and avoid strains or sprains from poorly-fitting footwear.
- Teenagers: Encourage regular breaks. Yes, schoolwork is important, but taking a break every 30 minutes will help to stop postural pains and stresses from creeping on. Ensure their desks are set up suitably- if you’d like some advice about workstation ergonomics and correct setup, let us know!
Remember- if your child continues to report back pain, it is important to consult a medical professional for appropriate advice. If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
If you have any further questions you’d like to ask, please feel free to get in touch.