Kids. Chiropractic. Possibility.
One of my favourite things about being a chiropractor is the fact that I get to help create and shape tiny little super humans. The ability to check children, to help to remove any interference to their nervous system, to enhance their mobility and to optimise their ability to thrive is a true privilege. We believe that every child is born with an innate potential to be amazing, to adapt and thrive and truly live life without limits. Sometimes, it is hard however, to know when or why we should consider taking child to a chiropractor, what potential benefits or side effects are there and is the combination of kids and chiropractic safe.
Why Kids & Chiropractic?
The very first and absolute reason to have children checked by a chiropractor is to optimise their body’s ability to adapt to this world and this environment. Their entire nervous system at birth is supported by a somewhat fragile skeletal system or spine. Early in life this isn’t fully formed nor are the bones completely hardened and resistant to compressive loads. As such they are a little more susceptible to the pressures of shock absorbing. Kids should be super mobile, completely flexible and malleable in almost any position. After all they were stuck into a pretty small space for about 9 months and did a remarkable job getting out of there and coming into the world to begin with (with a fair bit of help from mum). Kind of like nurturing a garden, we’d like to make sure the seedlings have the right amount of nutrients, water, sunlight and supportive trestles of support for optimal growth.
Children are not just small adults, yet like adults, even infants are susceptible to emotional, chemical and physical trauma. This trauma can place a tremendous impact on their little bodies.
Emotional trauma in children can severely affect their nervous system. This stress on their defence system, triggers a sympathetic fight or flight response even in toddlers. This hyperstimulation of the nervous system- their natural defence system is enough to initiate severe muscle contraction and irritate the spine of a child. Have a look at the intensity of kids crying (our two at home can make themselves throw up from screaming so hard) this could seriously stress out their little bodies.
Chemical trauma has been rising over recent years as evidenced with the ever increasing amount of childhood allergies. Since 2010 there has been a 21% increase in peanut allergies in the USA alone. Allergies are often a response to something toxic. Their reaction is often more than what is visible on the surface. If their defence system is responsive enough to develop a skin rash, their entire nervous system is under significant stress every time.
Physical trauma, regardless of how much we want to wrap our children in cotton wool and protect them from harm, physical trauma is an inevitable part of life. Firstly, the birthing process can be pretty traumatic. Yes newborns are super mobile, however there’s a big pressure difference between anterior and posterior births. Instrumentation i.e suction and forceps can be fantastic however, more and more force is exerted. Caesarean’s may miss some of this pressure however, even before they were fully formed children those first 9 months of development was in a really small space without a lot of room to stretch out in. Also, when considering childhood how can we not consider falls? From learning to walk, running into kitchen benches, falling out of bed, stacking their bikes and bouncing off trampolines. It’s been stated before that by the age of 7 children have had on average 4000 falls in their life time.
But does my child need an adjustment?
It’s important to remember that kids and chiropractic does not always mean getting them adjusted. Chiropractor’s are experts in checking children for altered movements, imbalances and disturbances in their nervous systems. Sometimes, when we check and screen a child they can be moving absolutely perfect, if this is the case- awesome let them be the most amazing child they can be!
Attached is a short video that I did with Cain showing a very simple chiropractic screen. You can do this yourself and please remember to look for symmetry and smoothness of movement. Kids should flow through these with relative ease.
Potential reasons and benefits for Children and Chiropractic
Children (even adults for that matter) do not always have a language for what is wrong. When there is irritation or disturbance to movement or the nervous system, sometimes the sensation might be something as simple as “feeling off.” This “off” sensation for some might be seemingly trivial things like:
- sleeping poorly
- unable to switch off
- unable to get comfortable
- generally fussy or irritable
- difficulty lying flat on their backs (look for this in swim class too)
- if breastfed, they might only like to feed from one side
- even exceptional clumsiness, running into walls, awkwardness with eating, etc
All of these innocuous things could all be signs of spinal tension, irritation or a general increase in stress on their little nervous systems.
There is a bunch of seemingly more “serious issues” more than just an “off” feeling that could also heavily be associated with spinal irritation and particularly neck tension, irritation and spasm.
Ear, jaw and upper neck tension
The ear, jaw and upper neck are three seemingly distinct areas yet they are super close together, literally millimetres apart. In many cases they share the same muscles, nerve supply and the very same innervation. It’s can be folly to talk about one without considering the other.
The upper neck is literally considered an anchor of the entire spine. It’s the last moveable joint connecting the body to the skull and as such it is under immense tension and pressure. It wraps directly around the brainstem, has over 20 different attachment sites for muscles and neurologically it has the most direct and deep impact of all joints into the working and processing brain.
If there is misalignment or altered movement in the neck there could be substantial tightening of the neck muscles, swelling of the discs and inflammation of the joints. Mechanically this could be enough to create a blockage, compress or reduce the amount of space in the neck especially in the soft areas. This increased pressure can plug or block the flow of lymph through lymph glands, compress & irritate ear ducts, decrease the ability for water to drain, close down nasal pathways and pinch air passages.
Some of the more substantial and hidden issues that could potentially be associated with the common cause of an upper neck misalignment or subluxation include:
- Mouth Breathing
- Recurrent Ear Infections
- Attention Difficulties
Many of these things unfortunately are common, however, common doesn’t always equal good.
Think about swimmers ear and grommets. Grommets are little tubes surgically inserted to assist the draining of chronic fluid build up in the ears of small children. Swimmers ear is often the consistent pooling and failure of draining of fluid from the ear passages. Snoring can be an inability to get sufficient air in via nasal breathing and recent studies are looking are inner ear problems with attention deficit and concentration problems in the classroom …..
One of my favourite things about being a chiropractor is that I get to check and adjust my family, my tribe on a very regular basis. I love the fact that through the use of my hands on their tiny little bodies I can check how they are adapting, how they are moving and look for any signs of imbalance.
Children respond notoriously quickly to chiropractic- the pressure required to create a change is substantially less than what it is in adults and they adapt and hold changes so much quicker. If we can check and adjust children, then we are removing any potential interference to their nervous system, enhancing the way they move, decreasing the pressure from the inside out and bringing their bodies back to balance. Lets help their little bodies to work at the full time job of becoming tiny lil superhumans!!!