Another school year is rapidly approaching, and soon kids will be throwing on their backpacks and traversing the hallways on their way to class. But with the new school year brings a number of potential causes of spine and neck pain. In today’s blog, we share some tips so your teens and kids can prevent back problems as the new school year begins.
Back To School Spine Pain Prevention
There are a variety of ways that the new school year can cause problems for your child’s back. Here’s what you need to be aware of, and how to prevent problems.
Backpack Basics – We devoted an entire blog to pointing out the potential problems that backpacks pose for our spines, but it’s worth reiterating here too. When wearing a backpack, you want your child to have a durable backpack with two straps that sits just above their waistline. You also don’t want to overload it, and a good rule of thumb is to keep the total weight of the backpack under 10-15% of your child’s body weight. So if they weigh 100 pounds, the backpack shouldn’t be loaded up with more than 10-15 pounds of supplies.
Sport Specialization – This choice is really up to the parent and child, but if they’re open to it, try to get them to join multiple sports or activities instead of just focusing on one specific sport. Single sport specialization tends to overwork a set of muscles while ignoring other areas of your body, and this can lead to overdeveloped and underdeveloped muscles and increase your injury risk. To protect your spine, be sure that you are working in some core strengthening exercises no matter what sports you pursue. If you’re going to play just one sport, consider adding a cross-training workout to your weekly exercise routine.
Shoe Choice – If your kid needs to traverse from room to room or across campus to get to class, make sure they are wearing a durable and supportive pair of shoes. Your spine handles a lot of stress as you walk, and if you aren’t wearing the right shoe for the purpose, your feet and spine are going to feel the pain. Help your child find a shoe with adequate padding and arch support.
Diet and Stress – A poor diet or stress eating can contribute to weight gain and in turn put more pressure on your spine with each step you take, so help your kids make good food choices. If you still pack their lunch, make sure you’re loading it up with plenty of healthy options. If they are on their own for lunch, talk to them about making healthy choices. If they seem stressed by homework or tests, help them find a way to alleviate some of that stress. Exercise or family activities can help achieve this.
Posture Care – Finally poor posture in their desks can lead to lumbar and cervical spine problems. If you notice that your child has poor posture when working on homework, or they constantly have their head turned down looking at their phone, talk to them about the stress that is putting on their spine. Small posture changes can do wonders when it comes to preventing back pain.
For more tips, or to talk to a spine specialist about a spine issue, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.