This Chiropractic Awareness Week (14 – 20 April), Simon Rose, Principal Chiropractor and owner of the Longlevens Chiropractic & sports Injury clinic, is urging parents to recognise that their teenagers could be at risk from suffering from back or neck pain due to sedentary lifestyles and the excessive use of technology.
New findings from the British Chiropractic Association reveal that almost one in five (15%) people in the South West 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.
Simon states that his clinic is “noticing a rise in the number of young people presenting with neck and back problems due to their lifestyle choices.” He says that he would really like to encourage parents to limit the time their children spend using technology and instead encourage more active pastimes over the coming Easter holidays.
Figures made available to Simon by the British Chiropractic Association show that based on a two hour period, young people spend more time on games consoles (33%) than doing an activity like riding a bicycle (12%).
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.
Commenting on these findings, Simon says: “In clinic 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. We are not designed to be this way! There is the tendency to sit in a hunched position when working on computers and laptops and this can put a lot of strain on the neck.”
“Learning how to sit properly and keeping active will both help to keep young people healthy and pain free. Also, it is 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 Longlevens Chiropractic & Sports Injury Clinic 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 professional advice: Seek professional advice from a BCA registered Chiropractor such as Simon Rose or Danny Adams of the Longlevens Chiropractic & Sports Injury Clinic, 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 first, particularly if they are not normally physically active.