If you have ever looked at your child’s schedule and thought; “how do they manage that?” then this post is for you.
It’s weird. It feels like kids are exactly as lazy as they have always been, yet at the same time, busier than ever.
What I mean by that sentence is that it feels like kids of all ages are expected to participate in a lot more than has ever been expected of them in the past, yet at the same time, as people they are no different than we all were when we were their age.
Their time commitments may be larger than children even as little as 15 years ago, but their desire to not have to take out the rubbish, spend as much time in front of a screen as they can and at a certain age, exhibit inexplicably rude attitudes towards their parents is exactly as strong as ours was at the time.
I joke of course…when we were sarcastic and rude, we all had good reasons I’m sure.
Children are often expected to participate in at LEAST one (in my experience usually two or more) extra curricular activity, taking up multiple evenings throughout the week, then perform their chosen sports/activities on the weekend, as well as fitting in other commitments.
Yeah Kieran we get it, we are the ones who have to drive them around, what’s the point?
Thats a good question. The point is, if you think about how much is physically required of school aged children as well as mentally, the concept of performance becomes really important.
‘Performance’ doesn’t only applies to athletes.
Martin and myself have spoken to many work places about the concept of what we call Corporate Athletes. Let’s face it, if you are spending the time reading this blog, you likely already know hat I am talking about.
The term applies to anyone who, although they have a demanding schedule within their occupation (be it corporate or otherwise), as well as family and social commitments, they still demand and expect a lot from their body physically.
People are getting up earlier, finishing later and have less down time than ever, and on top of all this, we plan to exercise, play sport or even just actively participate in life and so we are forced to make choices that will support our body to keep up.
A lot of adults that we see don’t choose care because they are injured, in fact most of our clients see us to REACH and STAY at their peak performance, whatever that looks like to them.
The point, as you so rightly asked for earlier?
As adults we recognise that niggles and aches can be warning signs that we are not fully on top of things, yet we quite often think that because our children haven't had the time to build up issues and don’t have to live as busy a life as we do, that they should be able to push through.
With all due respect, I disagree.
I am not for one second think that I have EVER met a parent who doesn’t care more about their children’s heath than their own. Thats ridiculous.
I DO think that the traditional way that Australian society views personal performance, maintenance of health and injury prevention needs a re-think, especially when it comes to kids.
Think about your average week.
I don’t know who you are but I am willing to bet it contains varying amounts of the following:
More screen time than you would like,
less sleep than you know is ideal,
stress (from anywhere, be it work, friends, deadlines etc)
trying to exercise an appropriate amount,
attempting to make the best choices for food as you can,
commuting and if you’re lucky,
some down time.
When you look at this list, does it vary that much from a child's week from late primary school onwards?
I don’t think that your kids have it harder than you do, but if you had to do all the same things that they are required to do in a regular school week, do you think your body would feel better, worse or the same as what it does now?
When you think about the recurring ‘niggles’ your body has built up over the span of your life time, if you could go back in time and stop yourself developing the habits that lead you to developing them, things like your posture, the way you run, the lack of rehab on that rolled ankle from basketball, when in your life would you go back to in order to make the biggest change to where you are now?
I am not a betting man, but I am prepared to wager that you’re thinking that when you were at school would have been the best time to get on top of those problems.
The reason we didn’t do anything about our issues then, is because children can’t feel issues they way we do as adults.
Younger people are actually not wired to feel the types of pain that you and I are as adults.
Ever wonder why an 18 and a 28 year old footballer can have the same injury on the same week, and the 28 year old might miss 2-3 games while the 18 year old seems to be back the next week?
It isn’t because they are stronger, it is because their nervous system hasn’t fully developed enough to tell them they are injured and need to take it easy.
Neurologically, we are adolescents until our early 20’s. The last section of our nervous system doesn’t fully form until we are around 24 years of age and I am sorry to inform you…that last section is dedicated to a type of pain that young people just can’t feel.
They can have the same injury, and the same amount of healing needs to take place as it does for older people, but they remain blissfully unaware of just how sore they should be.
This is why you just don’t bounce back the way you used to. Sorry.
I am not sure but i suspect it’s the same reason that hang overs only start to really exist later in your 20s…more bad news.
You are right about one thing though, their posture is getting worse.
Most parents that we see in practice went through school at a time when computers were something you had yo go to the computer labs for, and the internet was confined to one family computer that you only got to use when no one else wanted the phone line.
Sure, we sat a lot and watched TV, but long periods looking at laptops is relatively recent, and we NEVER got to look at a smart phone.
Think about your posture now, having had a childhood that only had you looking at desk tops and TV screens…can you imagine what you would look like now in your 30’s and 40’s if from a young age you didn’t just slouch, you put your head completely forward to look at a screen you hold at your chest of sat flat on your lap for hours a day?
The reality is, we don’t actually know for sure just how large an impact this terrible posture will have on our children by the time they are in their 40’s because the life they are living has literally never happened before!
So what can you do?
Thankfully, there is plenty.
Firstly, I want you to keep nagging them about their posture. You are right to be concerned. Remember that a forward head posture leads to headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder injuries, decreases shoulder range of motion and worst of all in most kid’s opinion, does NOT look cool as an adult. Help them be the only one of their friends who stands up properly in their 30s.
Secondly, encourage them to be proactive. Help them see that what they are doing week in and week out is a lot to ask of their body and they need to focus on how it is performing to stay at their peak.
Third, make sure they are wearing their back pack correctly and are aware of how heavy it is.
Finally, make sure they are in good shape to start the school year by getting their niggles from the school holidays checked before they jump straight back into it.
A large portion of our practice at Align are families with school aged children.
This is no accident. Both Martin and myself started seeing chiropractors when we were at school and Align has always been passionate about the health of whole families and so we strive to be accomodating to their needs.
I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we love it when a whole family comes to visit us, it is always a highlight of Martin or my day in practice.
We hope you have had a fantastic school holidays, looking forward to seeing you in the practice soon.