47% of adolescents aged 15 years old in a recent multinational study reported having experienced back pain – much more common than you would think. Despite being a common condition among children, adolescents and adults, the etiology of back pain in children and adolescents is unknown. One of the most commonly cited causes of low back pain is loading/biomechanical factors, such as the amount of exercise one does, common physical tasks and the equipment used to complete them. Recently, groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Occupational Therapy Association have recommended that school bag weight not exceed 10 to 15% of the child’s body weight, otherwise they are at greater risk of low back pain..
When kids and adolescents carry around large books and equipment (particularly into high school), it’s not a stretch to think that backpacks are a potential contributing factor to back pain. When I was in high school, my mum paid all this money for a fancy ergonomically designed backpack to carry all my school equipment. The argument was that with a properly designed backpack, my small 13-year-old spine could handle carrying my school gear around without any excess strain on my back. But this wasn’t necessarily true, many days I came home with a sore lower back from the very back pack that was ‘designed’ to prevent it.
Recent research on the matter seems to support the ‘hunch’ I had as a 13-year-old. In a recent review in 2018 of 69 studies with over 72 thousand participants in total, showed no convincing evidence that aspects of schoolbag use increase the risk of back pain in children and adolescents (1). Despite the assertions of various guidelines and statements that endorse specific weight limits and metrics for schoolbags – there appears to be no clear association between schoolbag (weight, size, design & method of carrying) characteristics and back in in children and adolescents.
Schoolbag use just does not appear to be an important risk factor for back pain in children and adolescents. However, like all things in science, nothing is certain, and due to the lack of quality data and research into schoolbag size, weight, use etc – the authors of the paper remarked that the conclusion should be taken with ‘a grain of salt’, with more higher quality research needed to confirm the findings.
But surely carry a backpack long enough and anyone is bound to feel a strain in their back? The only factor around schoolbag characteristics and use that was related to pain in the research was the perception of heaviness of the bag – but not the actual weight of the bag. This finding has interesting potential implications – depending on how you interpret it. I personally expect the difference to be associated with the level of capacity of the student to hold their backpack (arm and back strength, endurance etc), which then affects their perception of how heavy the bag is. All conjecture though.
The authors of the review concluded that various professional bodies and clinicians that endorse or recommend specific backpacks do so without any good scientific evidence behind them. They aptly reaffirmed that It is important that such endorsements are made on the basis of firm evidence and free of financial conflict. So, when you next go to purchase a backpack for your child at school, worry less about the ergonomics – it doesn’t matter.
This article was written by Oliver Crossley at POGO Physiotherapy in Australia.
"Whole body immersion cryotherapy (WBC) has become very popular in the last few years. Like all things that become trendy in the public realm, it is associated with all sorts of sales. Or as some call it…benefits. Some of these “benefits” have been: decreased soreness, improves mood, lessens depression, boosts immune system, stops the flu, activates regeneration, treats autoimmune disorders, reduces pain, increases collagen production for better skin, reduces cellulite, and decreases body fat. I haven’t done an a ton of research on WBC. But it seems you can support your preference either way. So for me, it’s not something I recommend or have a strong opinion on. As long as it’s administered safely, I see it as an n=1 situation."
I couldn't agree more with the above from Aaron Swanson's take on cryotherapy, especially his last line.
I have friends and patients who like going to US Cryotherapy in Danville/San Ramon. Check them out!
There is something you don't hear every day....but it is true!
A study in Spine Journal looked at low back CT or MRI images of 3110 ASYMPTOMATIC (no back pain) people from 20 to over 80 years old and found (among other things):
Your diagnosis does not always hinder your movement!! You can restore normal movement and participate in life WITH all these scary diagnoses.
If you have questions, we're always here!
Insomnia has been shown to increase pain. It can be a difficult situation for patients who find it difficult to get to sleep because they are in pain, and then their pain is exacerbated because they are unable to sleep. Sleep deprivation in healthy individuals can even bring on whole body symptoms of fibromyalgia and can decrease descending inhibition (pain is more sensitized) (Choy, E 2015).
Sleep is a very hot topic at the moment, and understandably so. With technology at our fingertips and people being more wired than ever, sleeping less than 8 hours per night is becoming the norm. Unfortunately this is not at the benefit of our health.
A population who definitely understands the struggle of sleep is parents. Some new parents may not get more than an hour or two of sleep per night for the first 1-2 years – maybe longer. There could potentially be nothing more annoying than a new parent coming in to see their physiotherapist for back pain or neck pain – and being told that a large contributing factor for their pain is lack of sleep. News flash – they are aware they are getting less sleep. Something that may be more realistic is to acknowledge that the lack of sleep may increase feelings of pain, and not to panic about this. It is less likely that you have a structural issue going on, and more that you have some hypersensitivity due to lack of sleep. Sleep may not be the easiest thing to change, but things you can change is trying to fit in 5 minutes of exercise per day, drinking enough water and using a heat pack. Then when you do get some better sleep – you will probably feel a million dollars!
Another population that comes into mind is people who are unable to sleep because of their pain. They end up in a vicious cycle because their pain makes it difficult to get comfortable, every time they roll over they wake up in pain, then they get less good quality sleep, and then their pain increases because that have not had good sleep. Some things that can help people get to sleep include:
This article was written by Emily Georgopolous, who is a physical therapist at POGO in Brisbane, Australia.
It's pretty amazing. I see tons of people with knee pain and I consistently notice decrease calf size (atrophy) of the involved leg. Can you guess which knee is bothering the gentleman above? Patients don't believe me, so I have collected all these pictures of people's calves. These are a few since March 2019. Check them out:
The exercise to help??? Simple!! Calf raises but with a few important rules to follow:
If you have any questions, please give me a holler!
Enjoy your weekend!
Just as you should spend a 5-10 minutes raising your internal body temperature before activity, you should spend a few of those minutes turning on your core. This is not to be confused with an abdominal workout. Again, before that run, basketball game, Cross fit workout, whatever; don't you think you should wake up the area of you body that connects your shoulders and arms to your hip and legs? I used this as part of my warm up this week and really enjoyed it.
Check these 4 easy exercises out.
10 times each side.
Rotation and Lift
Quadruped Glut & Pull
Dead Bug Press
Side Plank with Twist
While running across the lifespan can help to slow the rate of decline of cardiovascular capacity and strength, as a runner enters the masters years they will experience an inevitable and unavoidable progressive decline physiologically, biomechanically and also in performance.
Here are 5 tips to help the runner who is looking to stave active:
TAKE HOME: By adding even just one of the above tips you may assist your running (P.S. Still very helpful also for runners sub 40yrs) 👍🏻
Brad Beer, a physical therapist and owner of POGO Physio in Australia, wrote the following post. He has tons of great information on his blog and Instagram. Follow him @brad_beer
It's well established that aerobic exercise improves health, but a new study suggests that better cardio fitness leads to a longer life, and that the benefit may help older adults the most. The results were published online Oct. 19, 2018, by JAMA Network Open.
The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a study and Harvard Medical School posted this article.
In the study, more than 120,000 people (59% of them men) underwent exercise treadmill testing periodically over 14 years. The researchers found that increased cardio fitness levels were directly associated with longer lives, and that people with the highest aerobic fitness levels lived the longest, especially among those over age 70.
The participants first underwent stress tests and were then classified into five groups based on their current fitness level: elite, high, above average, below average, and low. Elite performers, defined as the top 2.5% in their age group, had aerobic fitness levels comparable to endurance athletes.
When all the subgroups were analyzed by age, the association between higher aerobic fitness and longevity was observed in all age groups, but the benefit was greatest in people older than age 70. The researchers speculated this was most likely because the people were already fit and continued to commit to their fitness as they aged. They added that although it may be tougher to work on cardio fitness in older age, the payoff appears to be well worth it.
This article is from the Harvard Medical School in the Harvard Men's Health Watch in Feb 2019.
Try this easy stretch for plantar fasciitis. All you need is a step! Put your big toe on the step with the ball of your foot and heel on the ground. Drive the front knee forward, holding for 3-5 sec. Perform 10x and this can be done 3-6 times a day.
This can also help out some folks with Achilles and heel pain. Give it a try and let us know how it helps. If you have any questions, you can always contact me at email@example.com
Here is a quick fix for a nagging neck issues. It can sometimes even help shoulder achiness.
Simply turn your head to to the side of pain and use your fist to push your chin further into rotation. Only hold for a second or two then return to center. Knock 5-10 of these motions once an hour and then see how your neck feels at the end of the day.
If your neck continues to bother you, reach to us and see how we can help. Life's too short to have nagging aches and pains...and age isn't a good enough reason!
You can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The therapists at SRVPT have a variety of backgrounds and are interested in sharing our knowledge with you! Check out their bios for more specific information.