We live in strange times where parents can touch their toes, but their teenage children cannot. This is our new reality according to Sports Scientists. Research shows that teenagers are showing evidence of their digital lives. If parents and schools don’t respond quickly, our youth will suffer more painful injuries and a lower quality of life.
The newly-implemented Long-Term Athletic Development (LTAD) program at Wesley College, Perth has shown the impact of technology on children. Even the most fit teenagers skeletal, muscular and neural systems have been affected. LTAD has been designed to improve athletic ability and overall wellbeing for all students.
It’s amazing to think that the average Australian child spends five hours per day in school, many of them on their computers, sitting in a one-size-fits-all chair. After school, they sit hunched over their smartphones waiting for their parents to pick them up. When they get home, they take off their school bags and slump on the couch to watch TV or play games. What’s the impact? What can we do to reduce it?
What are the most common problems that using digital technology causes?
The following are some of the most common problems discovered by physiotherapy:
Poor posture, the position we adopt when we look at our phones or sit at computers, can cause swayback. Swayback is characterized by a rounded middle of the back and slumped shoulders. Swayback places more stress and weight on your ligaments and back joints, often due to poor core and abdominal strength, as well as inactivity.
Poor core development
The core muscles are all the muscles that run from the sternum to the pelvis, and also include the gluteal muscles. These muscles are essential for basic functions such as lifting books from a locker shelf, moving around, and sitting up or down. If these muscles are weak, they can’t hold correct posture, which can lead to poor development. It can also cause many common injuries. Children are developing core muscles when they exercise and climb, swim, ride their bikes, or run.
Hamstrings become tighter and shorter when a person sits for long periods of time. Many teens can’t touch their toes because of this. A shorter hamstring can have an effect on the alignment of pelvis, which has a knock-on effect for spine alignment.
It is obvious that any one area of the body can have a negative impact on others. Building strength, flexibility, and symmetry is the foundation of muscle, skeletal, and neural development. Inactivity and poor habits can hinder children’s development.
Text neck is a repetitive strain injury, which can occur when you keep your head in an unsupported position for a prolonged period of time. It most commonly happens from looking at the screen on your mobile phone for too long. The angle causes the head to be unsupported, which exerts approximately 5 kilograms of force onto your neck muscles. This is roughly the same weight as a bowling ball. This position can lead to tension in the neck and shoulders, which can cause pain in the neck, shoulder, neck, and nerves. Text neck has been shown to be linked to early arthritis in the neck.
Arthritis refers to a range of conditions that affect joints where more than one bone meets. More than one in six Australians suffer from arthritic conditions. Most of these people are younger than 65 years old. After back pain, it is the most common cause of chronic illness and disability in Australia. Children who have poor posture, bad bone alignment, and are not active enough are more likely to develop arthritic conditions.
One in four Australian children between 2 and 17 were overweight or obese in 2015. It is important to get our children moving. Obesity will affect our children’s happiness and health, and our community financially.
It’s not too late. Parents can be there to help right away.
Improve postural awareness.
Parents should be conscious of their children’s posture when standing and sitting and make efforts to improve them. You can say, “Stand tall, straighten your spine, and pull your shoulders back.” This emphasizes the importance of stretching.
Teachers and coaches must support the messages coming from home. Many children don’t realize they’re sitting or standing in the way that they are. For more extensive information on posture, www.exerciseright.com.au is useful. It is important to seek out a physiotherapist if your child has any significant weaknesses.
Be active and limit time on your devices
Modify the rules regarding device use. You will be unpopular for some time, but it is worth the fight. Previous generations have developed strength and flexibility by riding bikes, running, walking dogs, climbing trees, and kicking a soccer ball. Every moment spent in front a device is a loss of opportunity.
It’s not enough to send your kids outside. Get involved as a family. Children love devices that connect them to others, or give them the illusion of being connected. This connection can be replaced with a family connection or a connection with friends in real life.
Purchase quality shoes. Purchase quality shoes. Purchase quality shoes.
The foundation of the entire body’s structure is built on the feet. The whole body will suffer if the feet aren’t properly supported. Shoes that aren’t supportive of your feet can affect every part of your child’s body, including their ability to move. Make sure your children have shoes that are properly. These shoes should be good for school and sport.
Wesley College has already physically screened every student in Year 5 through Year 9. The students will be retested after six months of exercises that specifically target weaknesses in PE classes.
Positive physical changes in children take time and resources, but it is worth it. They will be happier, more competent, and more successful, with a better quality of life.
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