Children, by nature, are active and energetic and their bodies are extremely flexible and resilient.
After life’s minor accidents they often will show nothing more than a bruise or scrape… on the outside.
But what about the inside?
Children can’t be monitored 24/7 and falls and bumps can happen that may lead to misalignments (subluxations) in the spine.
Prolonged and repetitive motions of bad posture while watching TV and playing video games (or texting in the case for older children) can also cause spinal subluxations.
Subluxations that are neglected during this rapid growth period may have an impact on your child’s spinal development.
Regular chiropractic check-ups can identify potential spinal injury from these traumas, make the correction early in life and help avoid many of the health complaints seen later in adults.
5 ways to support your child’s spine from the start
1. Get Checked
Have your baby checked by a Chiropractor after birth, especially after an assisted birth. When obstetric tools like forceps and suction are used during the birth process, there is excessive pressure exerted on the baby’s neck. Not to mention the twisting and pulling of the neck when the baby is born via C-section.
In many countries taking your child to the chiropractor to have its spine and nervous system checked soon after birth is routine, in the same way babies are encouraged here in Ireland to visit a GP for week 2 and 6 check-ups.
2. Change the way you change baby
When changing the baby’s nappy, instead of lifting gently by the ankles to raise the lower part of the body, (as most people do), try rolling the baby on their side.
Place the clean nappy down, and roll baby back to fix nappy as usual.
This avoids lifting their legs and prevents upsetting the nerves to the small and large intestine.
Simply explained; When you lift the old fashioned way you are pressing on the nerve that goes to the intestine and pushing it out of place.
This can cause a lot of gas in that area leading to colic pain.
The ’S’ bend curve of the spine won’t develop in a baby until they start crawling so we should avoid pushing on the vertebra during nappy changes.
We know that when a baby reaches 6 months or around the time they learn to crawl, the colic goes away – why?
Because the curve in the spine has changed and developed. At this point it is okay to change the nappy by raising the legs.
3. Crawling and Walking in Their Own Time
One of the key factors in helping your child to crawl is plenty of “tummy time”.
This will help them develop the coordination, movement patterns and muscles they need to become a good crawler.
Encouraging your baby to walk pre-maturely may inhibit the amount of crawling your child does and place unnecessary stress on their developing spine.
If they learn to walk holding a walking aid or being encouraged by holding someones hands out in front, they are more likely to develop tightened hip flexors and tight hamstring muscles in their legs. This may lead to poor flexibility as an adult.
“Baby-walkers” are also not a good idea for the health of their spine.
Staying in what experts call the “forward head posture” can lead to muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves. Over time, it will cause problems.
I’ve noticed ‘Text Neck’ increase dramatically, among my younger patients.
A good way for children to counter forward head posture is by lying on their front and propping themselves up on their elbows.
5. Fit School bags properly
Poor carrying posture of heavy school bags can lead to spinal stress. This article on how to fit a school bag correctly will help.
These are just a few small things that you can do to protect the developing spine of your child.