We don’t generally associate childhood with aches and pains, but sitting in school all day and carrying a heavy backpack can cause back problems, even in kids. Parents can do some simple things to help their kids take care of their bodies during the school day.
Here are four tips for a healthier school year:
As adults, we know that an ergonomic office setup leads to less soreness at the end of the workday. Kids also need to know how to sit at their desks to avoid straining their necks and backs. Even though it often takes longer for kids to feel discomfort, chronic slouching can cause back problems that stick with them into adulthood.
Your child should sit at their desk with their shoulders back and their neck in a neutral position over their shoulders. Their lower back should touch the back of their chair, and their feet should be on the floor. Shorter kids may need a stool under their feet. Ideally, their knees should be at a 90-degree angle and their arms parallel to the floor. Kids who are short or tall for their ages may need a different size desk to allow them to sit properly.
You can teach kids good posture by modeling it yourself or gently helping to position your child in their chair. A word of praise when you see your child sitting with good posture can help encourage them. If you see them hunching over homework, you can remind them to sit up straight. Teach them to bend from the hips if they need to get closer to an assignment instead of hunching their neck and shoulders. Hunching over a desk can cause headaches and problems with flexibility and coordination in children. Kids learning on a computer should have the screen positioned at eye level.
Since your child’s spine is still growing, their posture now will determine their back health in the future.
2. Practice Good Backpack Habits
When worn and packed correctly, backpacks are safe and convenient. Your child should always wear both straps on their shoulders. Avoid messenger-style bags, especially if your child brings home lots of books or schoolwork. Wearing a backpack with both straps over the shoulders balances the weight, so it doesn’t strain your child’s spine.
The pack should sit high on the back and not sag down near the hips. It should also fit tightly enough so it doesn’t sway back and forth as the child walks. Using the waist and chest strap will provide additional support and take pressure off the back.
Look for a backpack with wide padded straps. Narrow straps can dig into the shoulders and interfere with nerves. Carrying this type of pack for a while can cause weakness or tingling in the arms or hands.
How you load the backpack is just as important as how it’s worn. The heaviest items should be packed towards the back, and your child shouldn’t carry more than 10-15% of their body weight. Encourage your older children to use their lockers instead of carrying everything around with them.
3. Encourage Physical Fitness
Kids are naturally playful and active, but many don’t get the physical activity they need. After a day sitting in school, active play outside can help relieve stress and keep your child fit and healthy. If the weather doesn’t allow for this, having your child do some jumping jacks before they sit down again to do homework or watch TV can help them get into the habit of including physical activity in their routine.
Physical activity is necessary for a child’s physical and mental development. A sedentary lifestyle leads to weaker core and back muscles. Poor core strength in children has been associated with motor skills issues such as trouble holding a pencil for a long time, doing up buttons, or keeping their balance. It can also make it difficult for kids to feel comfortable sitting in school and concentrate on assignments. Weak core muscles can’t do a good job of holding the spine in place, so kids with this problem might experience more back issues.
Many activities build strong core muscles. Playing on monkey bars or climbing playground equipment, swimming, and gymnastics are a few examples. Sitting on a therapy ball instead of a chair while doing schoolwork at home is a great way to turn a sedentary activity into a strength-building one. Lying on their back or stomach with their head and shoulders propped on their elbows while watching TV is better for core muscles than sitting.
Kids who build a strong core and get in the habit of being physically active have a reduced chance of becoming overweight and having metabolic health problems as they get older.
4. Seek Chiropractic Care
Between sitting in school and roughhousing with friends, a kid’s body goes through a lot. Their growing spines need support as they develop. Regular chiropractic care can fix subluxations before they lead to more significant problems. Studies have shown that kids who receive regular adjustments get sick less often and have fewer aches and pains as they grow.
Our spine houses our spinal cord, the main nerve highway of our bodies. Subluxations in the spine can impair nervous functioning. Keeping the spine healthy frees the nervous system to work optimally. This leads to better coordination, less pain, a more robust immune system, and even less anxiety and better behavior in children.
Chiropractors are trained to work on kids of all ages using gentle adjustment techniques.
Chiropractic Care for Children in Kentucky
Is your child struggling with concentration, coordination, or headaches? At All Star Chiropractic, we believe that chiropractic care can help people of all ages live their best life. Come in today to see how our compassionate providers can help your child have a happier, healthier school year.