osteopathy

BACK TO SCHOOL - tips to help your kids

September’s here and 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.

OSTEOPATHY: Treatment versus Prevention

Pretty much all of my patients come to the clinic because they're in pain and their body's have hit a crisis point. Perhaps they hit the gym too hard, slept awkwardly, spent too many hours hunched over the computer, or had a specific accident that left them needing some osteopathic TLC.

Osteopathy works wonders to relieve pain, restore movement and flexibility to stiff joints and to help your body out of that crisis back to a place where you can enjoy your favourite hobbies.

Most of the time, once a patient is pain-free, they cease treatment and only call the clinic if the problem reoccurs. However, I'm forever explaining to patients the power of prevention. At the end of the day, our bodies are machines that require maintenance and the occasional oil change, just like you would your car. 

Osteopathy is as beneficial in preventing recurrences of pain, as it is in treating and curing them. The manual techniques osteopaths employ help relieve tension in the body (that builds up from our 21st century lifestyles!), relax muscles which ultimately pull joints out of alignment, and teaches you how to recognise and manage triggers which can worsen your pain. 

We all lead busy hectic lives, sitting for too long and carrying heavy bags, whilst doing our best to keep fit and healthy. But sometimes our bodies run on empty and require that maintenance to prevent a much worse problem from occurring.  

So next time you start feeling a little niggle or have an important trip coming up, it's much better to book an appointment with your osteopath to sort it out early, so that it doesn't develop into a bigger problem. 

 

Common causes of knee pain

Not all knee pain is created equal.

Back-of-knee-pain-treatment.jpg

We are constantly seeing stories in the news about professional athletes with knees problems. Most of the time the footballer has slid, tackled and ruptured their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or the tennis player has torn their meniscus. So it's no wonder many of the patients I see in the clinic believe these are the reasons behind their knee pain. However, ruptured cruciate ligaments and torn menisci are fairly rare in the general population. Knee pain is not. 

The knee joint is a complicated, yet very stable joint and works as a function of both the spine/hips and the foot/ankle. Osteopaths will always examine the entire "chain," to see whether your knee pain is resulting from the top down (as a function of the low back/hips) or from the bottom up (as a function of the foot/ankle). 

Most commonly, patients come to my clinic with knee pain that's a result of compressive forces across the joint (yup, that's physics speak!). Both the quadriceps muslces (front of the thigh) and the hamstring muscles (back of the thigh) attach below the knee, so when they are tight (which they almost always are) they exert a compressive force across the knee joint. This tightness decreases the space in the knee joint, which means the structures around the joint can rub and pinch more easily. If these muscles around the thigh and knee are out of balance, they will pull more on one side of the knee bringing the joint out of alignment.

toy-train-500x500.jpeg

The patella - your kneecap - sits within the tendon of your quadriceps and glides back and forth across the knee joint as the quads contract. It's like a train on a traintrack and often gets 'derailed.' If any of the muscles around the knee (quads/hamstrings/IT band) are pulling the knee out of alignment, then the patella gets pulled off its track and can cause pain. This is called Patellar Maltracking. 

It is also common to strain the ligaments around the knee, without fully rupturing them. This can happen if you over extend your knee or make a sideways movement with a planted foot. Often there will be some swelling in a sprained ligament, just like if you were to sprain your ankle. 

Although there are many different causes of knee pain, I have outlined only a few - which are the most common I see on a daily basis. Knees respond very well to osteopathic treatment, relieving pressure, tension and tightness whilst also working up and down the chain - from the foot up to the spine - to ensure the movement and forces going through the spine are evenly distributed. 

Just remember, osteopathy is NOT JUST BACKS, so next time your knee is niggling, perhaps call your osteopath to see if they can help.