A survey released today by The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) reveals that childhood back pain has reached an all time high in the UK. Almost a third (32%) of 6 to 7 year olds are complaining of back pain.
The survey exposes that suffering is beginning at a young age, in line with ‘slouch potato’ lifestyles. In 2002, 29% of 11-18 year olds were complaining of back pain. Now, in 2008, 45% children have already suffered some kind of back pain by the age of 11.
With back pain on such a dramatic increase in the UK, half term is a great opportunity to get outside and get active, but 45% of 6 to 15 year olds admit to spending the majority of their half terms playing computer games or watching TV.
Watching TV is the most popular holiday pastime among six and seven-year-olds with a quarter (25%) admitting to spending most of their time in front of the box.
Eight to nine-year-olds are the laziest age group, spending the least amount of time playing sports a week – nearly a tenth admit they don’t do any sport at all
The daily school routine is also taking its toll with 72% of the nation’s school children carrying around heavy books and sports equipment all day on their backs, which the BCA has called the ‘snail’ effect, where children carry their lives on their back.
And the bags they are carrying may be causing even more harm, with only just over a third (37%) of six to 15-year-olds wearing a rucksack correctly on both shoulders.
In fact, almost two thirds of six to 15 year olds suffering from back pain continue to opt for other types of school bags over rucksacks.
It’s not just back pain that children are laying themselves open to. The nation’s ‘text obsessed’ adolescents are also putting themselves at risk of developing repetitive strain related injuries.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of 14-15-year-olds are sending more than 10 text messages a day and, on average, six and seven-year-olds are sending around two text messages a day.
Tim Hutchful from The British Chiropractic Association comments, “With children as young as six now complaining from back pain, this survey clearly highlights the alarming rate at which back pain is growing within the UK. There are simple steps parents can take such as checking that children aren’t carrying around unnecessary items in their bags and encouraging them to use a rucksack worn correctly on both shoulders.”
Tim continues: “But we are in no doubt that lack of exercise is children’s number one enemy. Half term is the perfect opportunity to get outside and do something active. We’d urge parents to help take steps to counteract back pain and, to help with this, the British Chiropractic Association has developed a very simple three minute exercise entitled ‘Straighten Up UK’ routine, which is really easy to incorporate into their daily lives to help strengthen the spine and improve posture.”