Are your children at risk of back and neck pain misery?

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Children suffer with neck or back pain too!

New research  has found that electronic technology is leaving the under 20’s in pain!  This Chiropractic Awareness Week (14 – 20 April) Chiropractors Ian Reed and Richard Nelson of WellBeing Clinics Derby are warning parents that their children could be at risk from suffering from back or neck pain due to their sedentary lifestyles and the excessive use of technology.  The latest findings are:-

  • More than one in ten (14%) people in the Midlands first started experiencing neck or back pain before they were 20 years old*.
  • In the UK, 40% of 11 to 16 year olds have already suffered and worryingly,
  • More than one in seven (15%) parents said their son’s or daughter’s back or neck 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 up to four hours a day on a laptop, tablet or computer and a staggering 73% spend up to six hours on the devices.  More than a third (38%) of parents said their child spends up to six hours a day on their mobile phone.

Worried mums and dads

Ian Reed and Richard Nelson are noticing a rise in the number of young people presenting with neck and back problems due to their lifestyle choices and more worried mums and dads raising the issue with them when they are having their treatments .  They both suggesting  limiting the time children spend using technology and instead encourage more active pastimes – especially with lots of free time available over the Easter holidays.

Worringly based on a two hour period of activity, 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.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 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.[1]  Commenting on the findings, chiropractors Ian Reed and Richard Nelson of WellBeing Clinics  said: “We are seeing more and more people under the age of sixteen with back and neck pain and technology is so often the cause.  Young people are becoming increasingly sedentary which is damaging their posture – the tendency to sit in a hunched position when  on computers and laptops and game consoles for hours” .

“Learning how to sit properly and keeping active will help to keep young people healthy and more pain free.  It’s important that parents seek help for their children from an expert if pain starts and does not ease in a timely manner.  If conditions are left unattended it could lead to more chronic back and neck problems down the line.”

WellBeing Clinics 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.

For more information on how to maintain a healthy posture, the British Chiropractic Association has developed ‘Straighten Up’ – a simple, three minute exercise programme for all ages, designed to help strengthen the spine and improve posture and help joints.

Why not share this video above with your child’s head or deputy head teacher or teacher and with other mums?  The 3 minute exercise routine could help waken up tired minds,  improve concentration and so help break up the lessons .

For more valuable advice say tuned to our blog, FB pages and twitter feed.  Don’t forget to share this others!

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Research was commissioned in 2014 on a sample of 461 UK parents with children aged between 11 and 16 from a wider sample of 1000 parents.

* Research taken from 2014 BCA research – sample of 91 adults from the Midlands.


About the Author:

Derby Chiropractor Ian Reed and co founder of WellBeing Clinics Derby