Saturday, 30 August 2014

Back to School ... tips to help your children

As August is coming to an end, there's one main thing on most people's minds: back-to-school! The summer holidays seem to pass by so quickly, but for many it now means getting back into regular routines for both kids and parents alike. Routines are important for all of us, to help manage time, money, relationships, sleep cycles, eating habits, exercise and our health. 

We often bundle the kids off to school in the same manner as we bundle ourselves off to work: rushed, tired, and laden with bags, then expected to sit and concentrate for 8 hours in uncomfortable chairs. Read these few tips to help with your child's ergonomics, to ensure and happy & healthy return to school. Don't forget, they can suffer from back pain too...but can't make sense of it the way we do!

Choosing a backpack:

  • choose lightweight material & discourage clipping on toys to reduce the overall weight
  • make sure the shoulder straps are thickly padded
  • a backpack with multiple compartments helps distribute the weight
  • a backpack with a waist-strap can help take the load off the shoulders/back

How to wear the backpack:

  • adjust the backpack so it sits no more than 4" below their waistline. you don't want the pack hanging too far down their back & hanging past their bottom. the bottom of the bag should be sitting in the curve of their lower back
  • really encourage your kids to wear the backpack on both shoulders, to avoid unnecessary strain, as using it on one shoulder only can cause curvatures of the spine and back strain
  • load the heaviest items first, so they are closest to the spine and not creating a top-heavy scenario

Other ideas:
  • cut down on what's being carried each day. only take what's really necessary and leave the rest at home or in their locker (this goes you too mum & dad!)
  • encourage your kids to leave heavy hard-back books at school, if they're able to finish up their assignment at school
  • do a weekly "clear-out" of your child's bag, to get rid of all the miscellaneous bits they pick up & stash 
  • weigh the backpack regularly to ensure its within the safety weight range (15% of your child's body weight)
  • if they carry sports kit/equipment, have them carry it in both hands to distribute the load
  • well-fitting, supportive shoes are imperative to your child's development. choose soft pliable shoes, with enough room in the toes to wiggle. and make sure you measure their feet EVERY time you buy shoes, as they are constantly growing
  • encourage some form of exercise after school so that your child doesn't move from sitting-to-sitting
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, encourage your child to talk to you about any aches or pains they may be experiencing. if they are suffering from any issues, get an osteopathic examination to ensure there's nothing more serious going on

Monday, 28 July 2014

Camping and Back Pain

Camping is a wonderful way to escape the city rat-race & get back to nature. Many of us are taking to it this time of year, helping to relieve stress & spend quality time with family and friends. 

But for back pain sufferers, the thought of sleeping under the stars can bring other anxieties! Camping can really wreak havoc on your back and neck, so take care & follow a few easy tips to ensure a fun break away:

Tips for preventing back pain when camping:

1) The long car/train journey to your destination can already set your back off. So take breaks whilst driving, and have a stroll to admire your surroundings before unloading your heavy items and setting up camp.

2) Don't carry too many heavy items...take multiple trips, park up as close to camp as possible, and delegate jobs to other people!

3) Take care whilst setting up the tent, get down onto the ground & kneel instead of crouching and stooping over.

4) Take chairs with you to sit around the camp, instead of crouching to the ground.

5) Use airbeds or a good quality camping mat instead of laying directly on the ground. Also, take your favourite pillow from home, to protect you neck.

6) Emergency single-use icepacks are beneficial to have on hand, just in case your back truly flares up.

7) And if you're already suffering from niggles, see your local osteopath for a check-up & treatment before you set off!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Gardening Tips to Prevent Back Pain

gardening tips, homebase, back pain
Another Bank Holiday is upon us and no doubt many of you will be out in the garden getting it in tip-top shape for the coming summer season! What a better way to spend the day, right? Until your back starts aching and you're stuck holding an ice pack to it instead of pulling those weeds....

Gardening is like any other activity or exercise and requires warming up and easing into it, so start with the smaller jobs and build up to the heavier ones. You don't have to accomplish everything in one day, and overdoing it can lead to those niggles becoming full blown pains. Consider manageable chunks of time (approx. 20-30 minutes) and vary the jobs you're doing to give each body part a break. 

When pruning, try to stand as close to the plant as possible and stand head on, as ligaments and muscles can get strained if you are reaching and twisting. 

When potting and planting, use a planting bench/table or kneel on the ground to avoid bending and stressing your low back. 

Digging is one of your more strenuous jobs, but also a great workout! Again, use the spade straight on to avoid twisting and bending, and try alternating the foot that drives the spade into the ground. Digging and pulling out roots/bushes etc. cause the most injuries, so loosen up the ground first and don’t dig when it is very dry & use leverage to assist.

Always be patient with moving heavy items around the garden and enlist help to shift those pots & bags of compost! When lifting, always use the proper form: lift with bent knees and keep your back straight -- do not stoop! Make multiple trips instead of risking a back injury from lifting too much at once.

Most importantly, if you feel sharp pains or the ache gets too much, take a break and come back to it another day. After all, your garden should be a source of joy and contentment, not pain. A warm soak in the bath can help the aching muscles and ibuprofen tablets help with an anti-inflammatory effect. It's also important to cool down after your day's work, so go for a short walk and do some stretches to help your muscle tension and flexibility.

If your pain doesn't settle within a few days, see your local osteopath for treatment and advice. Perhaps consider a pre-season back check-up before the gardening season comes into full could save you weeks of pain!!