We all too often assume that back pain is a sign of aged strain but did you know that back pain can strike at any age? In fact, many children suffer from back pain due to a variety of environmental triggers that can occur in their daily lives. Any muscle can be tweaked a become painful if pushed too hard, is there anyone more active in your household than your children? Probably not. These strains are usually written off as a bump or bruise as a consequence of playing but ignoring your child and minimising the problem could lead to some long term and irreversible damage.
Children up to the age of 8 or 9 are usually very active. Have you ever sat and noticed the way that children move? They are incredibly agile and use explosive and very functional movements in comparison to us. When you have the next opportunity, watch a toddler pick an object up from the ground, they are more than likely to squat down to get something from a low surface, but what do we tend to do as an adult? That’s right, we’ll keep the back straight and flex from the hips!
Usually, little niggles in children correct themselves, but if they don’t then it’s incredibly important to get professional advice and treatment if any such problems present themselves. Usually, it may only be verbal help and advice on long term solutions to help keep aches and strains at bay. Anyway, here is a list of common causes of back pain in children;
1, Exercise through play
The school playground is a hive of random activity at break times, running, jumping, climbing and usually with very high intensity and with no warm-up. I am a firm believer that stretching warm-ups aren’t necessary, as long as a joint has a good range of movement then the attached muscles will also be at the correct lengths. In order to help avoid strains being picked up easily encourage your child to participate in as wide an array of activities as possible to keep them and their core fit and healthy. Swimming, running, and cycling are among the 3 best to aim for.
2, Playing Sports
Children who engage in sporting activities will at some point likely succumb to an injury either due to full contact collisions or from strained muscles. It is important to instill a good foundational mindset in your child’s approach to sport, for example, the importance of an active warm-up which may include something like a brisk walk or a light jog, along with a consistent and sustainable nutrition approach and proper rest.
Kids grow at an astonishing rate and, as we’re all too aware, wear through shoes twice as fast. Regularly check the wear on your child’s shoes and that they are still supportive and fit well.
These are the most common causes of back pain that we see in children but there can be many triggers. If your child is showing signs of back pain then we can advise the best course of action. Osteopathic treatment can play a big part in addressing and alleviating these pains before they become something more damaging so get in touch if you have any concerns.
4, Screen time
This wasn’t even an issue when I was growing up but long periods looking down at a smartphone or tablet will force the back and neck into unnatural positions which can cause serious muscle tension. Over time this will result in pain and potential long term postural changes which can lead to even more issues as they grow.
I personally allow my 4-year-old, Poppy, around 45 minutes to an hour tops on her iPad (which used to me my iPad). I also ensure that whilst she is watching it that her hands and arms are neutral and are against her body and that the iPad is raised up to eye line level, I do this by placing a thick pillow on her knee with the iPad on, and another pillow behind the iPad to keep it upright.
If your child is using the device to do homework and needs to use it for longer than the hour limit then ensure they take a break and have a little stretch and walk around every 30 minutes or so. Not only will this help reduce the risk of strain but it can also stave off cognitive fatigue resulting in a more productive homework session.
5, School bags
With all the books and equipment our children are required to carry it is little wonder that issues can arise when lugging them around all day. As such investment in a sturdy backpack that is supportive is a must. I would always go for a backpack over a satchel or bag that hangs to one side so that the load is evenly spread.
With that in mind ensure that your child is using both straps on their backpack and not hanging one over their shoulders. Also, try to minimise the weight as much as possible and pack the bag with the heaviest items closet to the back to avoid postural strain.
I hope that this has given you some pointers, but if you have any further questions please do get in touch at [email protected]
Until next time!