Daddy, My Neck Hurts!December 23, 2015
Lauren (my 8 year-old daughter):“Daddy, why does my neck hurt?”
Me: “Lauren, you’re too young to have pain!”
Lauren: “But it hurts while I’m playing with my iPad.” (#spoiledkids!)
Me: “Show me what you’re doing when it hurts.”
So I have to admit, I didn’t believe 8 year-olds have lived long enough to have any stress on their bodies, let alone pain! But when I saw my daughter sitting like that, I did what any good daddy physical therapist would do, and checked her neck and shoulder muscles for tension. To my surprise there were actually painful knots in there! She said “ouch, is that what you do in physical therapy daddy?!”
Of course I said, “Yes.”
Children's posture & pain
Unfortunately muscle pain doesn’t age discriminate! Actually, there are a lot of studies out there that show the relationship between postures in children and pain. A very recent study in the Journal of Manual Therapy actually followed kids without pain for 1 year as they used their computers at school. Those with more head flexion (head looking down and in front of shoulders – like my daughter above!) complained of neck and shoulder pain by the end of the year.
Basically the more our children’s heads are forward and in front of their body, the more the muscles in back of their necks have to work. Imagine a bowling ball rolling off their bodies, and their little muscles keeping it up! As you can see from the picture below, the more bent their heads are, the more weight/stress is placed on the back of their neck and shoulders!
So how do we prevent our little kiddos from getting pain, and us not believing them! Here are 3 simple tips!
- Take 30 minute breaks! This is probably the simplest one. Just set a timer on the tablet/computer for 30 minutes, and have your kids stop and do some activity!
- Keep screen at eye level. As much as possible, try to have their screens up so they don’t have to look down (see examples below).
3. Fun posture exercises! Have them improve their posture without even knowing it! Here is a fun exercise to help your kids maintain a better posture, and still have fun!!
- Stand with your feet away from the wall and place low back against the wall.
- Slowly roll up and touch the wall with your mid back, upper back, then head
- Bring arms up as well so they touch the wall.
- Have a contest with your kids to see who can do this and keep it for one minute!
Parents! If you have any crazy/funny examples of how your kids sit, stand, or lie while using their phones and tablets, please share! But please try the tips above!