In order for children to grow up healthy, they need a balanced diet as well as an active lifestyle. Movement helps with bone and muscle strength as well as overall flexibility.
Two specialists from Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Abd Razak bin Muhamad, Consultant Paediatric Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon, and Dr. Ozlan Izma Muhamed Kamil, Consultant Orthopaedic – Spine & Trauma Surgeon, sat down to help clear up some misconceptions and educate about the key factors for healthy bone growth and maintenance.
While it is natural for parents to want to protect their children, but according to Dr. Razak, this actually could do more harm than good. “Children should not be protected from being active,” Dr. Razak explained. “There are appropriate exercises for every age range and children should be encouraged to move.”
Growing children need diets high in calcium. While most people know that they can find calcium in milk, there are many other calcium rich foods that are often passed over. Foods such as dark leafy greens, fortified tofu, almonds, and yoghurt are all significant sources of calcium.
In the past, many Malaysians tended to suffer from weak bones from poor nutrition. However, it seems that our children are having the opposite problem nowadays. Dr. Razak revealed that the most common bone problems he saw in his young patients are caused by excessive weight.
“Obesity applies a lot of stress to our growth plates – you can expect to see bowing of the legs, knocked-knees, and hip problems in overweight children,” Dr. Razak explained.
As children are growing up in such an image conscious world, parents nowadays are facing the uphill battle of teens, especially young girls, who are dieting in order to lose weight. Dr. Razak mentioned that this could affect their growth and their quality of life later on. “Balanced diet is still key, my advice is to continue to eat well and stay active.”
Staying active is something that many young adults struggle with. With the advent of handheld technology, many of us are increasingly sedentary and dependent on our phones. Dr. Ozlan advises for parents to limit the screen time their kids have. He has observed young people coming into his office with the symptoms of much older people – result of the amount of time they spend on their handheld devices.
Dr. Ozlan reassuringly explained that while the occurrence of back pain can be sudden and shocking, it’s often harmless.
“Back pain occurs when you try to get your body to do something beyond its ability. It’s not always indicative of a more serious problem. In fact, about 80% – 90% of back pain resolves itself within 2-3 weeks,” said Dr. Ozlan.
Of course, there are some occasions on which back pain is symptomatic of a more serious condition. It is advised to immediately seek medical treatment if your back pain is accompanied by shooting pain down your legs, loss of bladder control, or a fever.
When asked about why recurring back pain occurs, Dr. Ozlan disclosed that the most likely reason for that is that the sufferer never properly recovered from the injury. What’s the best way to get over a back injury? Counterintuitively, the fastest road to recovery is the most active one.
Dr. Ozlan advised that those suffering from injuries should “Work within the levels of tolerable pain. Even though it may be your first reaction to pain is to stay still, your joints need to move in order to heal properly.”
He explained, “If you don’t move, your joints are going to get stiff. Your muscles are going to get smaller and weaker. It’s the people who stay away from activity when they are injured who recover the slowest. Always remember, pain is just a notification – it’s not an alarm.”
With that said, Dr. Ozlan continued on to explain how key movement is to those who are growing older. He expressed his admiration of the elderly who live in Japan and Korea’s Jeju Island as folk living healthy and fulfilling lives well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond all because of their active lifestyles. Malaysians seem to struggle with the complete opposite attitude.
“Our parents need to feel appreciated. They should continue to remain active into their old age. I understand the desire to ask them to rest and relax now that they are old, but it can really end up hurting them in the long run. If they spend so much time stagnant and inside, they will get weaker faster, and will become more prone to depression.” Dr. Ozlan made a very strong case for the need for an active lifestyle.
The road to recovery and healing is worth taking to restore your full range of movement. After all, as Dr. Ozlan so simply put it: “No movement, no life.”
For more information on upcoming health initiatives and other medical services, visit Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur’s website at www.gleneagleskl.com.my or their Facebook at www.facebook.com/gleneagleskualalumpur.
– Cover Image: wellbeinghi.com