“No one ever carried my load, I’m too young to feel this old…”
A few days ago my little brother started secondary school. Accompanying a list of new things he needed to have, was a note saying parents are not allowed to help carry their child’s bags into school…
Now the pros of this are fairly obvious, the child is taking responsibility for their belongings, becoming stronger, more independent and in essence, growing up.
Personally, the cons outweigh these noble characteristics the school is aiming to instill, especially in the long run. The amount of books, sports gear and musical equipment children can be seen lugging around with them these days is verging on the ridiculous. At any moment you expect the child is going to fall over backwards.
When I was in secondary school some 15-16 years ago, I remember people my age complaining of back pain, at the age of 13 or 14. I remember thinking at the time that these kids are like old men. And to get to the point, are children today being forced to grow up too quickly? And what effect is this having on their health?
It is important to educate children on posture early on in their lives, encouraging them to sit up straight, teaching them good techniques with lifting etc, just as we do with adults, by which time habits are set and difficult to change. In this age of tv, computers, laptops and playstation, and the sheer number of hours spent slouched in front of these gadgets, the effect on posture is detrimental.
None of what has been said is ground-breaking science, it is fairly obvious. The problem is that not enough effort is being made to educate children on posture and good habits, such as taking a break every 20-30 minutes from sitting down in front of the computer and moving around. Physical activity is just as important as having a good posture, and this must all be encouraged.
If you feel that you or your child has problems with posture and are unsure what to do or how to change, it may be worthwhile coming to see us at Atlas Osteopathy(with clinics in East Finchley and Moorgate, as well as the option of home visits), where we can help with a variety of factors that may be contributing to poor posture.
“No pill can heal the ill of this sickness”
People are often attracted to the idea of pills and medications solving problems with pain and sleep. Often there is no good science behind the use of drugs for such problems and individuals turn to these methods due to a lack of knowledge of better alternatives.
Being unable to sleep, or sleep for an adequate amount of time, can be the most difficult and depressing experience a person can go through. The idea that a pill can solve this problem is therefore very appealing as it is deemed to be a quick-fix solution. However, sleeping pills do not cure the problem of insomnia, especially in the long run, and this is why…
Drug dependence and tolerance – taking sleeping pills on a regular basis will lead to drug dependence and drug tolerance. This means that a person may not be able to sleep (or have as good quality sleep) without taking the medication first. The more a person takes the pills, the greater the tolerance of the body becomes and eventually the person will require an increased dose in order for the drugs to have an effect. This will increase the side effects of the drug.
Side effects and withdrawal symptoms – the side effects of these medications can include drowsiness lasting well into the next day, confusion, poor memory and dry mouth. These side effects can be extremely severe. When the person tries to withdraw from these drugs symptoms such as nausea, sweating and shaking are common occurrences.
Drug interactions – if a person is taking other medications such as painkillers or sedatives, these can interact and worsen side effects, become dangerous and in some cases be lethal. Just think of Michael Jackson.
Rebound insomnia – if a need to stop the medication arises, for whatever reasons, the insomnia can sometimes reappear even worse than before.
Underlying problems – there may be an underlying medical or psychological problem, that if treated properly, could be more effective than medications.
So what can help a person get a good night’s sleep? For start, a good sleeping environment, relaxation and behavioural techniques. Stress can cause muscles, especially around the shoulder, the neck and base of the skull to tighten up and cause pain and headaches. Osteopathy can help with musculo-skeletal causes of poor sleep, through various muscle relaxation and soft tissue techniques and spinal/neck manipulation when necessary to correct posture when sleeping.
When having problems sleeping in bed, try the following…
If you sleep on your side – put pillows the depth of your shoulder under your head to avoid unnecessary strain on the neck. Lay on one shoulder with both hands in front of you to avoid rotation in the shoulders. Bend both knees and hips up to 90 degrees to avoid straining your back.
If you sleep on your back – put pillows so that your neck is in a neutral position. Bend both hips and knees up and use pillows for support, again to avoid excessive strain on the back.
Of course, there can be more severe causes of insomnia and osteopathy cannot help with these and so in some cases medication may be necessary. But pills are not and should not be the first port of call for sleeping problems.