have back pain for life? According to Esther Gokhale, pain expert and
author of 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back, it
is very likely because the way we carry our children can lead to bad
habits which can subsequently lead to a lifetime of back pain.
According to Gokhale, modern
societies have lost the knowledge of natural posture and movement that
prevents pain and
enhances health. This natural posture becomes lost at a very early age,
posture and movement patterns are etched into the brain. Today's parents
and grandparents have lost the generational wisdom for carrying children
right way, and today's children are the worse for it, because they carry
these habits with them into adulthood.
Here are a few tips from Esther on how to correctly hold a child:
* Lengthen your child's back, don't compress it
* Help your child's behind remain behind him, not tucked under
carried with his tail
tucked under; the picture below is a child in Brazil who is being
his tail behind him.
Here is a Q & A from Esther with additional information.
How common is for young people?
The incidence of back pain in teenagers is approaching that of adults.
Depending on which studies you follow, teenagers have between a 37%-60%
incidence of back pain. Less than two decades ago, back pain was
considered a rare condition that warranted an extensive medical work up
- now it is so commonplace that nobody blinks an eye when a kid shows up
with back pain. As with adults, blame is usually placed on external
factors - back packs, sitting at a computer, etc.
How should parents be carrying their children to avoid back pain?
Parents can do a lot to start their children out right and avoid back
pain and other musculoskeletal problems later in life. The most
important principles are:
1. Lengthen your child's back during his growing years.
A. For younger children, carry them in ways where their lower bodies
suspend downwards while they are being gripped around the ribcage.
b. For older children, provide them with monkey bars, swing them around
and around or suspended between parents - "wheee."
2. When carrying your child in a seated position, make sure his "tail"
is behind him, not tucked under him.
If a child or teen does experience back pain what should a parent do?
Do not instruct the child to "sit up straight" or "stand up straight."
This does more harm than good, both physically and emotionally. First,
understand the connection between back pain and posture, learn about
healthy posture by reading 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back or taking the
six-lesson Gokhale Method Foundations course offered around the country,
show your child images of healthy and unhealthy posture (8 Steps to a
Pain-Free Back has over a thousand images you can select from), and
offer your child effective and safe instructions like "stack your
blocks," "put your tail behind you not under you," "ducky butt not tucky
butt," etc. Get to the root of the problem and don't issue ineffective
interjections that are a result of frustration from not knowing how to
solve the problem. Be positive and knowledgeable and provide your child
an example with how to deal with problems.
What are the most common causes of back pain in young people?
Posture is the number one cause of back pain in kids (and adults, for
that matter.) This cause is under-recognized and we often blame things
that would not be problems if our posture was sound. Obesity and
inactivity are also real causes of back pain among young people.
Once a kid has poor posture, a lot of activities become problematic -
carrying heavy backpacks, sitting, sports, height, ,
etc., but the of the pain is really poor posture.
-Courtesy of Esther Gokhale