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Back to school part 2: Are your kid's bodies ready to perform?

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,

  • socialising,

  • 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.

Back to school pART 1: Are your kids set up to succeed?

If your children are headed back to school later this month then read on, this post is for you even though it’s about them.

It’s time we talked behind your kid’s back. Literally.

Being a chiropractor I might sound biased, but now is the perfect time to set your child up for success at school this year and make sure that their bodies look after them throughout.

Over the space of two posts about getting ready to be back at school, I want to challenge you to think a little differently about how you send your little one (and let’s face it, they are always your little one even when they aren’t physically so little any more) off to commence their school year.

Back Packs

In the video below, the Australian Chiropractors Association have spoken to a number of parents about their thoughts and experiences with how their children are affected by their back packs.

I think it’s an important reminder that, especially when they are young, our children’s spines are still developing, so the stress and strain that we put upon them physically can literally play a role in how their body works for the rest of their life.

The rest of this post might seem familiar to a few of you, and that’s because it is a slight edit of our back to school post from last year. The reason it remains largely unchanged is that the information is still accurate, the message still relevant, and our commitment to you through free back pack fitting for your children is ongoing.

So what happens when back packs aren’t right?

An ill fitting, incorrectly worn or over weight back pack can be a precursor to spinal issues and even exacerbate existing problems.

in fact, research suggests that back packs should not be heavier than 10-15% of the body weight of the child carrying it, yet how many times have you picked up your child's bag and thought it would be uncomfortable for YOU to wear?

An international study printed in Spine found that 79.1% of children find their backpacks are heavy, and 46.1% complained that their bags caused back pain.

This is made worse by the fact that in the same study, it was discovered that even though nearly half of the students had back pain, 33% of all of the students were still wearing their back packs too low!

If you want an idea of what happens to posture and spines when you wear a back pack incorrectly, see the photos of our amazing practice model Nicholas below. Nicholas has great posture and is more active than an average boy of his age. (On top of that, he is hilarious and an absolute gun for being a part of this post!) As you can see, none of that matters when he wears his bag incorrectly.


Nicholas shows us what happens when your back pack is too low, note that his head is forward, his shoulders are rolled and his low back has increased curve. 

The reality is, this overloading and incorrect loading of your child's spine may be putting them at risk of longer term spinal damage.

Add that to the time spent sitting or looking at the screen of a phone or iPad and....well I don't need to tell you what this means for posture. 


I have previously discussed the issues with poor posture at other times in this blog, (for a look at a more in depth discussion about posture, read the post here) but in summary, poor posture is bad, and the longer it's left unmanaged the worse things get.


At Align we are concerned about the future of younger generation's health and posture, which is why Martin and I will be providing free back pack assessments to ensure that your child starts the year off with their best foot forward. 

It is always fascinating to see how a small adjustment to a child's backpack can have far reaching effects. 

If you would like to book a Back Pack assessment for your children, please do not hesitate to contact us on 9696 1057.

4 Keys to making successful New Year's resolutions!

If you are keen to start your year off right and really stick to your New Year’s resolutions, then read on.

HOWEVER, if you haven’t yet watched Martin’s video on the 3 biggest mistakes people make with New Year’s resolutions, then I suggest you click the link above and watch that first.

Done that? Great.

Now that you have seen what to avoid when MAKING your new years resolutions, the real question is:

How do I stick with my New Year’s resolutions so that I can achieve something?

It’s the perennial struggle. As Martin talked about in the last video, it is important that you make you goals right in the first place, but its equally as important to know how to make them work for you.

in today’s video, Martin talks us through his tips to really set yourself up for success with your resolutions, how do you prioritise, and how do you turn them into habits that become part of your routine for the rest of your life time, not just while your levels of will power hold out.

As always, for those of you who would prefer to read, the video has been transcribed below.

Hi, Martin here from Align chiropractic and this is the second in our series of New Year's resolutions videos. 

Last time we went over the biggest mistakes that people make in setting New Year’s resolutions,, and today we're going to flip that around and give you some really simple tips that you can use straight away, to make the next year the healthiest year for you. 

The most important thing when you're making resolutions to improve your health is, first of all:

Start really, small. 

So if you're wanting to get fit and part of that is you're wanting to increase your upper body strength and you are going to do push-ups, you might be able to do 10 the first day, that doesn't mean you can do 20 and 30 and 40 day after day after day. 

That sort of radical change can get you hurt, and it will tax your willpower really fast which is no good at all. 

If you start really small, the goal on day one is to do one pushup, and if we expand that out you can apply the same thing to running, to going to the gym, to doing any sort of healthy habit; it's easy to succeed. 

When you succeeded, when you've successfully been able to do just a very small behavior but you repeat that small, easy to achieve habit day after day, it starts to build a habit.

Habits are the superpower behind successful resolutions. 

What I mean by that is a habit doesn't cost you in willpower; you do them automatically. 

If your habit in the morning is you get up and have a glass of water, you don't have to force yourself to do it, it happens automatically. 

The thing that that derails most resolutions is where we’re relying on willpower, doing something that's too big, too ugly, too uncomfortable, that we have to will ourselves to do it day after day, and then we wake up by morning we don't feel like it, and all of a sudden our streak is gone, our lack of willpower has won. 

Small resolutions where we're looking for just a little bit of success is much more successful. 

It also avoids us injuring ourselves and the general if we're doing a physical exercise, you're looking to increase it by a maximum, not a minimum, a maximum of 10% a week while building a habit.

That keeps it easy to succeed and it gives you your muscles, your ligaments, your tendons and your nervous system time to adapt to a new pattern of behaviour while are you building that habit. 

Make it easier to succeed and hard to fail. 

So our second thing is:

Pick the most important thing. 

We spoke last time of having too many resolutions being a problem. 

Just pick one area, one resolution that you're gonna stick to and the most important one. so if your goal was not so much about getting fit but more about losing weight, you've got a choice there, you can either have a resolution where you're going to change some aspect of your eating where you going to eat more vegetables or you’re going to eat less sugar or something like that, or you could look to exercise more and all the research shows that if you want to lose weight, for 99% of people actually, diet trumps exercise. 

You can’t work out past a bad diet. 

So, dial in the diet first because then you can build in habits before you try to change too many things. 

You also create a really positive domino effect where once you've started eating better you kind of naturally feel like being more active and exercising. 

You get this virtuous cycle where you eat better, so you exercise more, and you exercise more, you feel like eating better and so the cycle goes, and you can build a much healthier you with small, incremental and achievable changes.  

If you're only able to change one thing, again it taps into this small change makes it easy to succeed, rather than creating this horrible lifestyle that is so alien to you that you want to stop it the moment that you can. 

Third point is:

Don’t go it alone!

Rather than going solo and trying to do it just on their own willpower and their own resources, If you get a buddy, somebody else who wants to make the same change, or somebody else who will hold you accountable, then it taps into the way that we're wired.

We're wired to be social creatures and you increase your chance of successfully sticking with a resolution if you get a buddy. 

Somebody who’s going to check in with you once a week to make sure you've done what you’ve committed to. 

You can even ramp it up further, by adding consequences. 

One of the the ones that I think is really amazingly successful is that there is research that shows that if you have a negative consequence for if you don't stick to your agreed resolution of eating more vegetables every day or of eating five servings of vegetables every day, you have to make a sizeable donation to an organization that you hate, so for example, if you are a Carlton supporter you have to give a thousand dollars to Collingwood and the way we're wired away from what we don’t want more towards what we do want, it’s a powerful incentive for people to stick to their resolutions. 

The fourth thing is,

If you’re getting physical, get a check up.

If you're doing a physical activity, you're doing a fitness oriented New Year's resolution, then I'm going to strongly suggest that you get a checkup. 

If you're a client of ours, or you'd like to be a client of ours, give us a call pop in we'll check to make sure that everything's working the way that it should, before you put your body under stresses that it's not used to, and related to that, we see soo many people who have ignored niggles and then end up with a more significant issue down the line. 

So if your body is giving you feedback that the new regime is creating a bit of stress for you, don't ignore that, get it dealt with quickly so that you're not derailed by injury in sticking to your resolution. 

I hope these videos will set you up for massive success in improving your health in the year ahead, shoot us a message and let us know what you think and what are new changes you're making in the year to come.