Members of the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA) are advising parents and caregivers to encourage children to play the ‘old fashioned way’, and save our future generations from a possible lifetime of pain and dysfunction.
The NZCA says that new guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age are not necessarily about reducing screen time; instead they are about encouraging children to engage in active play.
NZCA spokesperson and chiropractor, Dr Cassandra Fairest, says: `The best posture is your next posture. We should be regularly moving rather than remaining primarily sedentary. We need to be saying to our kids “get up, go outside, and move”. Good, healthy posture is learned at a young age through physical activity. The WHO guidelines point out that a lack of physical activity is a factor in more than 5 million deaths globally each year across all age groups. Over 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. If healthy physical activity, non-sedentary behaviour and good sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.’
The new WHO guidelines coincide with publicity surrounding an Australian study from 2016 which found that increased screen time was causing the growth of small horn-like lump on the back of young people’s skulls.
Dr Fairest explains: `The researchers say that the lumps are caused by poor posture, which is the body’s way of adapting to stress by growing more bone where there is normally soft tissues such as muscle tendons. This is evidence that musculoskeletal degenerative processes can start and progress silently from an early age, and the poor posture was caused by the use of hand-held technologies. The researchers pointed out that poor posture can be corrected quite simply. One of the easiest ways is to consult your family chiropractor for professional care and advice to help improve spinal health and function – the sooner, the better.’
In addition to the new guidelines, the WHO has also recently published a paper in its Bulletin that warns of the risks of over-medicalising the management of low back pain which poor posture may lead to, instead advocating the type of spinal healthcare and advice that chiropractors are highly qualified to provide.
The paper, written by leading experts from Australia and the UK, proposes non-drug, non-surgical approaches as the first line treatment for low back pain. They include advice, education and reassurance with manual therapies including spinal manipulation for patients at risk of developing chronicity.
Dr Fairest notes that the WHO paper comes hard on the heels of one of the biggest studies of its kind, which highlights the efficacy of chiropractic in managing low back pain and its key role in reducing the use of pharmaceuticals.
The US study by New Zealand Professor Ian Coulter, is entitled * A comparative effectiveness controlled trial evaluated the addition of chiropractic care to usual medical care for patients suffering from low back pain. Professor Coulter (who was the keynote speaker at the recent conference of the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association in Christchurch) says: `The most common musculoskeletal condition reported is low back pain. Low back pain is also one of the most frequent reasons that people seek medical care. The burden of low back pain is made worse by the fact that many treatments included under the umbrella of usual medical care, such as NSAIDs, steroid injections, spinal surgery, and opioids, do not significantly decrease pain and may result in serious side effects. Spurred on primarily by the resultant opioid crisis, many government and private organizations, including the FDA, the Joint Commission, and the American College of Physicians are now recommending the use of non-drug, non-surgical therapies for chronic pain, including low back pain. Chiropractic care and/or spinal manipulation delivered by doctors of chiropractic is one of these recommendations.’
Chiropractors are uniquely placed to provide care that specifically focuses on the health of the spine and the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.
New Zealand’s chiropractors are taking the lead to inform, and inspire people to prevent pain and disability by educating the public to have a greater understanding of the relationship between their spine and nervous system, improving their posture, addressing and preventing spinal problems, and engaging in physical activity.
How to avoid poor posture:
- Encourage all children to use devices wisely; either prop up the device so that it is at eye-level, or have the child lie on their stomach with the device in their hands in front of them.
- Hold the device straight out from your face rather than drop your head to look at it. Take breaks every 15 minutes, or don’t use the device for more than 30 minutes a time with an equal rest of 30 minutes.
- Limit usage for under 6-year-olds, less than one hour per day. During rapid growth phases in older children and teens, less than two hours per day.
- Have regular spinal health checkups with your NZCA chiropractor.
- View the map below for your local playgrounds, and encourage your children to play outside.
*Professor Ian Coulter is a senior health policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he holds the Samueli Institute Chair in Policy for Integrative Medicine, based in Santa Monica, CA. He is a professor at UCLA’s Division of Public Health and Community Dentistry; Pardee RAND Graduate School; and the Southern California University of Health Sciences.