Back to School physicals? Three things your pediatrician won’t check which can affect your children for years to come.

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It is here again; back to school season. If you are like most parents, you are probably discussing your children's future needs, having them visit the pediatrician who approves them for sports participation and advises the school of their vaccination history and, if your children are going away to school, you are likely trying to take care of all the last minute things they will need in their dorms. Our children often do not tell us everything that is going on, but we do see some habits that concern us. Some children are constantly cracking their joints, their neck, and their back. Others, are always going to the gym with the belief they will feel best and yet others, get headaches we attribute to stress. Could there be more to these complaints, even though the school year has not even started? From our perspective, the part of the back-to-school ritual that is ignored that will affect your children for years to come is their musculoskeletal health. Poor musculoskeletal health shows up as pulled muscles, headaches, the urge to crack joints, poor flexibility, and pain from carrying their books around. The pediatrician will check their vaccination records, but I have yet to meet one who will examine your child's feet. Your child's body style is quite telling when it comes to their current musculoskeletal health and future problems and injuries which may be avoided. Even though they check for scoliosis in school, it is not enough unless you have a better understanding of their body mechanics and unfortunately, this is commonly ignored unless you visit the right practitioner. I believe that children after the age of 6 should all be screened, especially if their parents have suffered from neck and back pain, and headaches and have had muscle pulls or injuries to their knees or hips. Our children not only look like us but walk like us too. The poor body style is responsible for neck pain, back pain, headaches, the urge to crack joints, and poor flexibility, as well as most running injuries. With a simple evaluation and some simple solutions, many of these problems can be markedly reduced or eliminated altogether however, not knowing causes some very painful, expensive, and upsetting problems, especially for the young athlete.

Every student should have the following checked

1. Foot posture
a. Are they flat-footed? This can cause tight calves, poor flexibility, and other problems that are easily solved with the right shoe inserts (inexpensive off the shelf, not custom), and the right sandals (avoid flat or cheap old navy sandals with these children).
b. Are they Asymmetrically built? This causes back and neck pain and will affect them in the future. You can help them with the same solutions as mentioned in a.
2. Body and core alignment a. Are their hips torqued? This will cause the leg muscles to pull while they run, slows them down, and results in neck and back pain. b. When they bend forward, is one shoulder blade higher? If so, they may be in the early stages of developing scoliosis or perhaps, they may be asymmetrically built. Refer to section 1 on foot posture for things you can do to help them. 3. Can they raise their arms over their head? a. If their pelvis is distorted, they will not be able to raise their arms up over their head. Pediatricians do not check for this. These nuances of movement begin from the feet up and determine how we function as we age and are the most common reasons for injuries during sports.

Solutions you should investigate

1. Myofascial release is ideal for addressing poor postural issues. If you are yelling at your child to straighten up, it may be time to consider that visit to the chiropractor to have this fully evaluated and if necessary, treated. Chances are that if you had problems due to body style and build, so will they. Early intervention is a necessity. 2. Off-the-shelf inserts such as power step, Vasili (orthotic, not gels), and even green super feet are great for the growing child. Custom ones will be outgrown in no time and are a waste of your hard-earned dollars until the child is in the same shoe size for about a year. 3. Foam rollers - these are a crude form of self-administered myofascial release. Target has them for $20 - 25 dollars. They do not take up much room in your home or dorm, and your student-athlete can follow the enclosed sheet of exercises, or the video (many of them are sold with instructions on how to use it) and they can use it before athletic competition. Let me know what you think. As always, I value your opinion. If you want more detailed information, read the book Cheating Mother Nature, What you need to know to beat chronic pain now available on    Do you want a professional opinion?  Book online here.