It’s school holidays after a veeeerry long term here in Victoria.
I’ve heard from mums and dads in both of our clinics that their kids are exhausted – with Easter being so late, the term dragged on for a couple of more weeks than usual.
Whilst the kids will likely spend this week hibernating and restoring their energy reserves, it’s only a matter of time until they’re uttering the inevitable words – “I’m boooorreeeddd.”
Depending on your child, they’re likely to have preferences as to how they spend their spare time – so we’ve divided our advice into that for active or passive pursuits.
Such as: Bike riding, tree climbing, Scooter riding.
Science says that activity and exercise is a great buffer for pain. Moving muscles, getting the blood pumping, oxygenating bodies, releasing endorphins – there’s lots of physiological ways that movement and exercise helps to reduce and prevent discomfort and pain.
We do however, inevitably see a few school holiday injuries in the clinic – the most common being a sprain to a wrist or ankle after falling off a bike or scooter.
A sprain is an overstretch of ligaments which support a joint. This can be very painful and sometimes become quite bruised or swollen, but in most instances heal quite quickly and has no long term ramifications. If your child has had a fall and is complaining of pain in a joint, it’s worth bringing them in for an assessment, so that we can ascertain if an Xray is required.
If you child falls and sprains a wrist or ankle, the general advice in the short term used to be RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Whilst this approach will alleviate pain in the time immediately post injury, there are some concerns that it is not the most useful way to speed up the healing process of the joint. Scientifically, the jury is still kind of out, but the most accepted and most sensible way to approach sprains is now the POLICE method – Protect, Optimally Load, Ice, Compress and Elevate.
You’ll notice that REST has been replaced with PROTECT and OPTIMALLY LOAD. All this means is that we should be attempting to place sensible and tolerable amounts of weight through an injured joint as soon as is practical. This doesn’t mean we tell a child with a black and blue ankle to start walking around without crutches when the pain is still severe – but we would get them gently drawing circles with their foot, or perhaps practicing standing with both feet on the ground and holding onto the wall for support. Gentle movement improves blood flow, helps carry nutrients and immune cells to the area which help with healing, and helps to prevent weakening or deconditioning of the muscles close by. It also helps to prevent the injured person from becoming too protective or scared of their limb, which may influence their pain and injury risk in the longer term.
If your child injures themselves, pop in to the clinic so that we can advise you of some sensible ways to gently exercise their joint, to get them back into tip top shape ASAP!
If your child is a Fortnite devote or loves their screen time, they’re also at risk of developing discomfort in certain circumstances. As mentioned above, exercise and movement helps to buffer people against pain. Sedentary behaviours can sometimes lead to deconditioning of musculature, which in itself doesn’t cause pain but could predispose injury. Spending time in prolonged positions, no matter how “good” a posture is, can also cause nagging discomfort in supportive muscles – usually around the neck and upper back.
To avoid this, try your best to have allocated time limits for device use. The current Australian exercise guidelines for children aged 5-17 state:
- Accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities.
- Several hours of a variety of light physical activities;
- Activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
- To achieve greater health benefits, replace sedentary time with additional moderate to vigorous physical activity, while preserving sufficient sleep.
- Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
- Limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.
- When using screen-based electronic media, positive social interactions and experiences are encouraged.
- An uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years.
- Have consistent bed and wake-up times.
It is a great idea to schedule exercise first, then fit the allocated screen time around the exercise. Whilst the guidelines state that no more than 2 hours screen time is optimal, it is preferable to break this down into chunks of no more than 30 minutes, as muscle fatigue starts to creep in after half an hour.
There are apps available to help monitor and limit your child’s screen time, and whilst this is an American website, there are some good examples:
If your child is experiencing discomfort after long hours on their device, let us help! Bring them in for an opinion and some friendly advice, and perhaps some fun exercise tips that they’ll actually enjoy!