Osteopathy Journals and Research by Darren Chandler

 

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  1. The 5th to the 11th October is national BackCare Awareness Week, which this year focuses on back pain experienced by children.

    Like adults, children can suffer from back pain as a result of a variety of lifestyle activities.  And like adults, there are a number of things that parents and carers can do to prevent issues arising.

    If your child does complain of back pain, it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional, such as an osteopath.  An osteopath will help to establish the cause of the problem and will provide advice on treatment, or refer you to the appropriate healthcare professional.

    Good school bags

    Children are often required to carry bags full of books, PE kits, musical instruments and other equipment to and from school. Parents should try to limit the weight of school bags as much as possible and invest in a good quality back pack that the child should wear across both shoulders, ideally with a strap across the chest to keep the load close the their body. Packing the bag with the heaviest items (such as laptops and heavy books) closest to child’s body, will also make carrying more comfortable and less likely to strain the muscles of the back.

    Limit screen time

    Looking down to use smart phones, tablets and laptops for an extended period can pull the back and neck into an unnatural posture, resulting in pain. Placing limits on the time spent using devices and encouraging regular breaks may help to avoid problems. If your child has to use a laptop for homework, consider purchasing a support that elevates the screen to a height that allows him or her to sit up straight to look at it.

    Regular exercise

    A sedentary lifestyle is known to contribute to the risk of developing back pain, as well as contributing to obesity. Regular physical activity helps to keep the core muscles that support the spine strong and maintain flexibility, which will help to avoid back pain. Encourage lots of active play, walking, running, swimming, cycling etc to keep your child fit and healthy.

    The right bed and pillow

    Good quality sleep is vital for both physical and mental development. Make sure that your child has a good sized comfortable bed with a firm mattress and a pillow that supports their head without lifting it too high.

    Osteopathic manipulative treatment for your child’s back pain

    Your child’s back pain may benefit from osteopathic manipulative treatment.  Using gentle manual therapy an osteopath will help to resolve any stresses and strains that are affecting their body and relieve their pain. They can also provide lifestyle advice that may help to prevent the problem from coming back.

    Reference: Osteopathy Today. September/October 2015

     

     

  2. A poorly adjusted workstation can give low back, neck and shoulder pain. By following some simple steps you can adjust your PC at home and work to limit the strain you place on your body. With the time children can spend on computers it's worthwhile checking their workstations in their bedroom as well. 

    Is your workstation properly adjusted? Follow these tips.

    Support the low back

    Adjust your chair to support your low back. Ensure your knees are level with your hips. A footrest may help with this.

    Alter your chair

    Your chair should be at a height where you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. Keep your elbows loosely tucked by your side.

    Both feet flat on floor

    Feet should be flat on the floor. If they’re not, use a footrest. Don't cross your legs!

    Alter your screen level

    Your monitor should be directly in front of you at about an arm's length away. The top of the screen should be roughly at eye level - you may need a stand for this.

    Using your keyboard

    Your keyboard should be in front of you. Leave a gap of about 10cm-15cm at the front of the desk to rest your wrists between bouts of typing. Keep your wrists straight when using a keyboard. Your elbows should be vertical under your shoulders and by your side. A wrist rest keeps your wrists straight and at the same level as the keys. 

    Make sure your mouse is close

    Keep the mouse as close to you as possible. A mouse mat with wrist pad maintains your wrist in a neutral position.

    Check for screen glare

    Screen glare tenses your face and alters the position of your neck and head. If there’s glare on your screen, hold a mirror in front of it to find out where it’s coming from. Change the angle of the screen to avoid reflection from overhead lighting and sunlight. Reduce the glare from light by closing blinds and using table lights instead of overhead lighting. Adjusting the screen's brightness or contrast can make it easier to use.

    Keep things close to hand

    Make sure objects you use frequently e.g. your pens or telephone are in easy reach. You don’t want to repeatedly stretch or twist in order to get things. 

    Don’t cradle the phone

    Try using a headset but if you have to use a phone don’t cradle it between your shoulder and ear.

    Don’t get stuck

    Stuck in one position – even the ideal one – can cause you problems. It doesn’t matter so much what exercise you do at the computer to give yourself a quick stretch so long as it’s nothing too vigorous and avoid bending your neck back.

    Often patients will get up whenever they can even if it’s just for a few seconds to shuffle around or do a few shoulder rolls or drop one shoulder down then the other to stop themselves stiffening up.

    Any changes in posture, diet or exercise should not be carried out before consultation with an appropriate healthcare professional.