The most common complaints bringing children to all forms of physical therapists are back and neck pain. Some causes of back pain in children include poor posture, inappropriate forms of exercise or poor technique, and carrying heavy schoolbags.
Poor posture (imbalanced body position when sitting, standing, or lying down) is commonly habitual and makes the spine vulnerable to injury and pain, which is caused by excessive stress from prolonged poor posture and can arise from many tissues around the spine. These tissues include muscles, ligaments, discs and the joints of the spine.
When attending an Encore Health clinic consultation patients undertake a full musculoskeletal assessment, to determine if posture is the cause of the dysfunctional symptoms, or if further investigations need to be conducted. Assessment then determines the likely tissues being affected by the postural imbalance, and identifies the appropriate treatment protocol to assist in improving health.
A structural physical examination assesses the state of the body to highlight factors that are contributing to the poor posture. These include:
- Muscle length
- Muscle strength
- Core stability
- Postural awareness & balance
From the examination, a diagnostic plan is considered to address both the immediate symptoms and the underlying causes of the poor posture.
In some cases the symptoms present are treated to alleviate pain and inflammation in the tissues under stress. This involves hands on gentle joint mobility, muscular balance techniques & central nervous system directed practices to enable to body to correct the dysfunction responsible for pain or discomfort.
In all cases of postural dysfunction in children, an individual program is designed to correct the physical reasons for the existence of the poor posture causing the injury to the spine tissues. Such a program focuses on the following:
- Re-establishing awareness of good posture through education and taping if required
- Improving available joint range of movement to allow for postural balance
- Stretching program at home that aims to return muscles and ligaments to their correct length
- Core stability exercise program at home that begins simply and progressively intensifies as the patient improves
- A strengthening program to enable growth to assist recovery & prevention of further physical imbalances
- Teaching the patient how to sit properly in a chair, and for other specific daily activities
- Discussion of an ergonomic chair for study to improve posture while doing homework or using the computer, including making sure the child’s feet are on the ground when sitting
- Encouraging regular ‘walking and stretching’ breaks when doing homework, as sitting for long periods of time can fatigue back muscles
- Discussing the importance of children also undertaking exercise and activity time that balances out the prolonged sitting postures during school and study time
Information regarding safety and health for a happier students & teachers is essential to provide health education, with safe and comfortable workstations for students of all ages as the outcome leads to increased comfort and decreased likelihood of injury. Children’s bodies are more forgiving than adults’, but over time bad habits may lead to injury in the future or even permanent disabling conditions. Proactive postural and ergonomic education for children and adolescents now- when their bodies and habits of movement, balance and postural co-ordination are still developing, can have a significant impact on future costs of healthcare and the morale of the future workforce.
Explore the links below for information on Postural and Spinal Health topics…
Would you like Dr Rachel Murphy to visit your school, business or community group? … Click here to make an enquiry.