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Saving Your Kids from a Life of Back Pain

We often think of chronic low back pain as a problem for middle-aged adults. Unfortunately, a recent study of more than 1,000 children age 10 to 17 finds that this common problem affects our children as well

Nearly 1 out of 5 children suffered from  low back pain. Fortunately, the same study highlights two simple strategies to improve the odds for our children.

Inactivity More Than Doubles the Risk of Adolescent Back Pain

Adolescents who had high sedentary behaviour compounded by a history of inactivity from childhood presented with a risk of low back pain that was 240% of the norm (odds ratio 2.4). Gender, age, body mass index, abdominal obesity, sleep quality, and socioeconomic status are all risk factors for adolescent low back pain that can intertwine with the likelihood of children staying active. Therefore, the researchers risk adjusted their numbers to remove the increased risks from these compounding factors. The more than doubling of back pain risk comes directly and specifically from inactivity alone.


Quality Sleep Lowers the Risk of Low Back Pain

Adolescent sleep quality has been identified internationally as a major public health issue, with poor quality sleep reaching epidemic levels.[2] Studies range from saying one out of four gets less than the recommended 9 hours of restful sleep to saying that 90% of high schoolers have inadequate sleep.[3] It turns out that not only does sleep quality affect mood and cognitive function, but Lemes and colleagues find that it affects the risk of back pain. Among those adolescents who have a childhood history of inactivity and current high sedentary behaviours, data associates quality sleep with an adolescent back pain risk lowered by 9%.   


  1. Lemes ÍR, Oliveira CB, Silva GC, Pinto RZ, Tebar WR, Christofaro DG. Association of sedentary behavior and early engagement in physical activity with low back pain in adolescents: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. European Spine Journal. 2022 Jan;31(1):152-8.
  2. Louzada F. Adolescent sleep: a major public health issue. Sleep Science. 2019 Jan;12(1):1.
  3. Peltz JS, Rogge RD, Connolly H, O'Connor TG. A process-oriented model linking adolescents' sleep hygiene and psychological functioning: the moderating role of school start times. Sleep Health. 2017 Dec 1;3(6):465-71.

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