From elementary to college, classrooms across the country are bustling once again as summer draws to a close and the new school year begins. And, while the type of school work may vary drastically from one age group to the next, there is one linking factor between students of all ages – back troubles. It’s an unfortunate reality that many educational environments are not conducive to protecting the back. Whether it’s an unsupportive school chair or too many books to carry, there always seems to be a way in which school equals back pain.
As a parent (or student), there are thankfully a few proactive steps you can take during this time of year to protect your back now and into the future:
Ideal Weight and Position of Backpacks
The backpack is certainly the most commonly noted culprit of back strain in school-aged children. These bags are often far too heavy and poorly positioned, which can easily put stress on the spine and back muscles. Ideally, a backpack should weigh no more than 5-10 percent of the user’s body weight. It should have two wide, padded shoulder straps which are both worn at all times. Adjust these straps so that the bag fits snugly against the body, eliminating bounce and so that it hangs no more than four inches below the waist.
Healthy Posture at School Desks
Sitting at a desk for a long time whether during normal school hours or in the evening for homework can lead to some very poor posture habits if not approached mindfully. Students should sit straight with their shoulders back and a slight curve in the lower back. From the ears to the shoulders to the hips, everything should line up when seated properly. When reading a book or working on a computer, ensure that the object of attention is at eye level in order to prevent bending the head and extending the neck. It is also wise to take frequent breaks and stand when possible.
Keeping the Back Healthy for School Sports
For school athletes, there is an added component of potential back injury due to sports during the school year. In order to protect the back when practicing or working out, students should be careful to practice good form no matter the exercise and stretch both before and after. Likewise, taking time to condition the body during the off-season can help prevent injury as well.
A strong back is key to a pain-free, healthy life. Regardless of age, it is never too early to begin instilling best practices for posture and back safety. Forming good habits and avoiding unnecessary strain now can help keep children free of back pain and related complications well into their adult lives.
If you or your child are suffering back pain from school-related activities, visit SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers, where our chiropractors can help restore proper alignment and offer tools to keep your back strong.