A survey released by The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) on 16th October 2008 (World Spine Day) showed the scale of back pain, and particularly childhood back pain, in the UK.
Previous academic studies, notably by the University of Edinburgh of 4000 11-15 year old Scottish schoolchildren, have shown that plenty of our children are starting to suffer pain from an early age, and also found a clear link between the level of computer usage and the risk of suffering problems. They reported 15% of regular computer users and gamers suffer frequent backache, and 40% suffer neck or shoulder pain.
Those figures are bad enough, but the BCA’s finding that 32% of 6-7 year olds report suffering back pain is frightening, which is why it’s been reported in major UK newspapers (The Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express).
45% report suffering some back pain by the time they reach 11 years old, up from 29% amongst 11-18 year olds in 2002.
The sources of this enormous increase include increasingly sedentary lifestyles, more time spent on computers or playing games, and the ongoing problem of carrying heavy bags to school.
The survey comes at a time when average computer use in the UK is reported to have risen by 400% since the early 2000s, presumably as a result of changing work patterns, more computers in schools, and the growth of broadband access.
Interestingly, I found an article the other day (sorry, can’t find the link just now – should have bookmarked it at the time) in which the UK Schools Minister admitted that, despite the billions of pounds being spent on re-building British schools, the majority of school IT classrooms are equipped with furniture that would be illegal in the workplace!
Alright, so kids typically don’t spend hours in front of the computer at school, and are normally made to take a break by lesson changes – but even so, this isn’t exactly joined up thinking. If you don’t encourage children to sit properly at their school computers, what chance is there of them doing so at home?
We have to start taking children’s posture seriously, otherwise we’re going to end up with a population that’s suffering near continuous pain, with huge numbers being unable to do their jobs – not to mention vast treatment costs and compensation claims.
Check back on the blog soon – we’re planning a major announcement on the education front to enable schools to benefit from using PostureMinder to encourage better posture in the classroom. In the meantime, if you’re a teacher, headteacher or concerned parent, please get in touch with your thoughts.