It feels like we spend so much of life indoors. We’re hunched over laptops or curled up over phones and we’re just sitting still… gazing intently at a tiny screen while the real-world shifts and flows all around us.
We all know that it’s important to keep moving and spend quality time outdoors – but I wanted to find out why it matters and how we can help our children build healthy habits that will stay with them for life.
Five Minute Read
Meet Dr. Narelle Crabbe. an Osteopath who works with infants, kids and adults.
Narelle is also the Co-Owner of Connect Health + Movement and parent to two young girls. (The triple hatter)!
She is passionate about helping kids and adults get moving – she says that making movement part of your everyday life is the key to lifelong health.
Narelle with her family in Wilson’s Promontory
Tell me about your childhood and what led you to Osteopathy?
Narelle: Growing up in Warnambool with three older sisters, there was always something going on.
If we weren’t on the beach braving the wind, we were in our local streets playing tennis, cricket, cycling and roller skating! Being active was always such a big part of our family life.
However, my sports of choice were athletics, calisthenics, and grass hockey (let’s call it mud hockey). We used to play hockey in the driving rain and wind, we were that committed!
It was definitely my love of sport and interest in health that led me to Osteopathy.
The principles of Osteopathy really rang true for me, as it’s about treating the whole body as a unit, not just an individual problem area.
It really is amazing how our body works together as a team!
I especially love treating women through pregnancy, working with infants and children in their development, and helping all my patients get back to being active and doing what they love.
What common problems do you treat in children? Can they be prevented?
For infants and under-fives – it’s not enough crawling!
We want babies and children under five to crawl on their hands and knees as long as possible (we call it the ‘4 point-crawl’). Some babies skip crawling altogether or develop their own techniques…
Neuroscience studies have proven that crawling helps connect under-fives left and right brain and develop their literacy and numeracy skills!
Top tip! If your child is under 5 – encourage creative and active play. Get them balancing on an uneven log and play lots of crawling games with them!
At school age – it’s carrying heavy bags, using devices and sport injuries.
Physically our children are growing so quickly, that it’s important to get the right balance and start healthy habits when they’re young.
For example, kids should only be carrying 10% of their bodyweight. If they’re carrying a bag too heavy for them and not adjusted to fit them – it can strain their shoulders, back and neck.
I often see parents carrying their children’s bag to school and forgetting to adjust the straps for their child.
The other common problem is ‘slouching’ over devices and/or lying down reading an i-pad on the couch. This poor posture is creating habits that are hard to break when they’re older.
My top tips for school-age kids:
- Make sure the bag they carry is adjusted to fit them and it’s not too heavy.
- If they’re using devices, they should take regular breaks and have an ergonomic set up.
- Help them do a few simple stretches to ‘open up their frame’ – and make this part of their daily routine!
If they’re aware of their posture growing up, it will have such a positive impact for them long-term.
How do you help your family and daughters stay active?
It has been such an interesting challenge! We are a very active family and have tried to make this part of our daily and weekly routines. Rather than just hopping in the car – we try and walk to school when we can (it’s a 15-minute walk).
My daughters both do gymnastics and swimming after school. On weekends we try and head outdoors to a local park for a family bike ride or ramble.
BUT our daughters (aged 7 and 9) are very different people. One will find any excuse to move - ‘Running late to school? No problem, let’s walk faster!’ The other will find reasons why it won’t work; ‘I’m tired and I’m not ready - we won’t make it in time.’
As a parent, I have learnt it’s so important to find what works for each of your children and to take it slowly. If you’re too pushy, it may have the opposite effect.
It was actually during lockdown that we discovered that our daughter loved bike-riding.
The other thing we learnt was to go exploring with friends – on a camping trip to Wilsons Promontory they both walked and ran so much further!
The key is to make being active fun, and to find out what they love.
Your favourite parks around Melbourne?
The silver lining of lockdown was it gave us a chance to re-assess.
During lockdown, we found some amazing green spaces and played with whatever we could find in our local parks. Out daughters became so much more creative - so we're keen to do more of that!
Close to home, we like exploring beautiful Royal Park and the Maribyrnong River.
For a bigger escape, we love Wilsons Promontory, Gariwerd (the Grampians) and of course Warnambool..
The beach is such a magnet for our family adventures, and we spend hours and hours playing, exploring and finding shells. Leaving at the end of the day is the biggest challenge of all.