Established by the United Nations in 1954, the 20th November is Universal Children’s Day; a time to celebrate the future generation and promote well-being among children.
Here at goPhysio we remember that children aren’t just mini-adults but have a completely different physiology (let alone psychology!) to adults. This means they will experience different injuries to adults and will need different rehabilitation strategies to get better. All our Physio’s and Sports Therapists have experience treating children and undergo child protection training.
One of the most common problems we are increasingly seeing in children is back and neck pain linked to inactivity and poor posture. As the evenings get darker playing outside is swapped for ipads and movies, meanwhile there’s an increasing pile of homework to be done at a computer as the new school term gets underway. This increase in sitting still, often in slouched positions can lead to aches and pains in the short term but also lead to poor habits as we get older.
If we can instil good habits in children when they are young we can ensure these issues don’t follow them into adulthood. With childhood obesity also on the rise the message to get active is more pertinent than ever.
Here’s our 5 top tips to prevent postural back and neck pain and get your children moving this autumn.
Limit IT time
It’s estimated that teenagers spend an average of 6.5hours a day in front of a screen. Whilst technology can be a great learning tool these sustained periods can have a detrimental effect on both mental and physical health. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that we limit screen time to 2 hours a day. As a parent try to lead by example and set boundaries such as a technology free night or tech-free rooms in the house, particularly bedrooms and meal times.
Get set up
There are times when using a computer or laptop is necessary for homework and other tasks. Get a good set up at home by sitting at a proper table or desk in a straight-backed chair (not on the sofa!) and aim to get the screen to eye-level. This might mean using a laptop stand or placing the screen onto a thick book to make it higher. Remove other distractions and take a short break every 30-60minutes. Not only will this improve concentration, but it will allow time to stretch and move around so our muscles don’t get tired and achy from being in one position too long.
Try new activities
Allowing your children to experience new activities can be an important confidence booster. Not everyone is going to be great at school sports such as athletics and football, but the more opportunities children have the more likely they find a sport that suits them and that they are good at. Therefore, they will be far more likely to participate in regular exercise. The NHS recommends kids should be doing at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Think outside the box – rock climbing, ice skating, martial arts, watersports…you never know what you could be good at until you try! NHS choices has a great search tool for activities in your local area.
Explore the outdoors
Autumn is a great time to wrap up warm and go and kick up some autumn leaves. We are lucky to live in an area with so much beautiful countryside with the New Forest, South Downs and Farley Mount on our doorstep so get outside and get exploring! You might even try building a den or tree house!
Make small changes
Getting more active often doesn’t need a radical change in lifestyle, instead start with small changes. For example, try walking or cycling to school at least once a week, or getting off the bus one or two stops earlier. Before you know it, you might be signing up for you first Park Run (5k) or Junior Park Run (2k), which happen in Southampton, Eastleigh and Winchester every Saturday morning.
All these small changes could make a big difference overall to your child’s health.