“PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH EAST SUFFER WITH NECK OR BACK PAIN BEFORE THEY’RE 20 YEARS OLD”
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) commissioned market research, which was carried out with parents of children between 11 and 16 years old and looked at whether their child had already suffered from back or neck pain as well as lifestyle factors, particularly connected with technology.
Overall UK findings were that 40% of those parents questioned said their 11 to 16 year old had experienced back or neck pain. More than one in seven (15%) said their child’s pain was a result of using a laptop, tablet or computer.
This Chiropractic Awareness Week (14 – 20 April) we are warning parents 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 East 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 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 of parents said their child spends up to six hours a day on their mobile phone.
Our chiropractors at Back 2 Balance are noticing a rise in the number of young people presenting with neck and back problems due to their lifestyle choices. Back 2 Balance wants to encourage parents to limit the time their children spend using technology and instead encourage more active pastimes over the Easter holidays. Based on a two hour period, 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.
I see 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. There is the tendency to sit in a hunched position when working on computers and laptops, putting a lot of strain on the neck. I believe that learning how to sit properly and keeping active will help to keep young people healthy and pain free. It’s 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.
We offer 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 d
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.esk 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.
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. You can also find a lot of valuable posture advice on the BCA website.
Written by Rebecca Nicholas, chiropractor and clinic director of Back 2 Balance, a family friendly chiropractic clinic in Hove. She has a special interest in family health, especially pregnancy care.
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.
* Statistics taken from 2014 BCA research of UK adults– sample of 312 adults from the South East.