Every parent has nagged at their child to stop slouching in front of the TV, computer or video game, and teenagers who spend the majority of their free time in this way suffer. Lack of activity or exercise causes various symptoms such as poor muscle strength, poor joint control and issues with posture, and ultimately back pain.
Osteopathy can give relief from painful symptoms, but it’s important to get to the root of the problem first. Here are five things to keep an eye on when it comes to your child’s health…
1. Discuss good posture
Teenagers belong to one of the most important age groups in which the body goes through many changes. Shifts in the structure and posture of the body are most visible during these years, so identifying and explaining the causes of posture problems is vital to ensure your teen doesn’t suffer from long-term issues and grows into a healthy adult.
2. Reduce screen time and increase activity
It may sound obvious, but don’t let your child spend hours in front of a screen! Minimise the time spent using devices particularly when you know their posture is compromised e.g. lying on sofa or in bed. Becoming more active is the only way to get to rid of the problem altogether. Regular physical activity in childhood and teenage years has lots of benefits – it helps to build healthy bones and muscles and improves strength and endurance. It also helps increase self-esteem and even boost academic performance!
3. Educate on healthy eating
It is really important that your child has a varied diet that is not overloaded with sugar and starchy carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, potatoes and white rice. When it comes to breakfast, try and avoid eating processed cereal and encourage porridge mixed with fruit and seeds, eggs with tomatoes and mushrooms, or plain yoghurt with bacteria with added fruit or honey to sweeten.
A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour showed that feeling confident in your cooking skills as a teen has long-term health and nutrition benefits. Those who thought of their cooking skills as adequate when they were younger consumed fast food less frequently and prepared more meals with vegetables most days. Invite your teen to help you prepare dinner so they can learn a thing or two!
Finally, ensure your child consumes enough calcium daily, as this is the most important time in their life for creating good bone density for in later life. Check out our series of blogs on osteoporosis by clicking here.
4. School bags
Ill-fitting backpacks are one of the leading causes of back pain among school-aged children and teens. As kids get older, they are often asked to carry heavy books to and from school on a daily basis, and if their backpack sits low on their spine, or they hunch forward to support the heavy bag, it can lead to a world of hurt. Ensure your teen is using both straps to carry their bag, and make sure the straps are tight enough such that the bottom of the backpack doesn’t ride below their waist.
5. Be vigilant
At the end of the day, you need to keep an eye on your teen. Look at their posture – is the spine curved? Do they hold their neck to one side? Do they have knock knees? Do they have flat feet? These are all signs of poor posture and can lead to an early onset of back pain, and in serious cases, result in long-term health problems.
If you do have a teenager with back problems, or general pain, make the most of the summer holidays and bring them in to see us. We can diagnose the problem and give you sound advice and practical suggestions, whether for exercise or rest, which will help prevent problems from reoccurring. Call us today on 01722 512 043 to make your appointment.