After enjoying months of summer fun, it's time for the reality of another school year. It can be a challenge to prepare your kids for going back to school, especially if they had a great time on their vacation. And back to school means getting back on schedule, packing lunches, and new backpacks, classes, and teachers.
As exciting as a new school year can be, it can also be stressful. Kids not only have to deal with first-day jitters, but their bodies are also put under added stress from the weight of their books and supplies. This often results in pain, either in the low back, shoulders, or even headaches. These factors can lead to poor health outcomes, and each of these stressors can negatively impact the nervous system. Here are our tips for keeping your child (and his or her spine) healthy as they go back to school.
All About The Backpack
A new school year most likely means a new backpack. Your child might be asking for the latest trend, but make the best choice for their back. The shoulder straps should be wide and padded, and a waist strap is a plus. Some backpacks even have extra padding along the back and waist for added support.
Once you've got the right backpack, make sure it's packed the right way. The weight should not exceed 10-15% of your child's body weight. Anything higher than that can have harmful impacts on their joints and spine. Additionally, be sure to put the heaviest items closest to the body. Oddly shaped and lighter items should be further from the body. For example, keep the textbooks closest to their back and the extra tissue boxes away from the body. You also want to make sure your child is using both shoulder straps to prevent imbalances in muscles and posture that can lead to neck, shoulder, and upper back pain. If their backpack is closer to the 15% weight range, a waist strap will help distribute some of the weight of their hips instead of all of it falling upon their shoulders and back.
The last thing to look at is how the backpack fits your child. The bottom should fall at hip level, not too far down their legs and body. That can cause an abnormal gait, which will cause discomfort and increase the chance of a trip and fall accident. Pay attention to your child's posture when they are wearing their backpack. When looking at them from the side, their ear should be over their shoulder and their shoulders should be directly in line with their hips and feet. If their head is pushing out in front of their body or their posture seems out of alignment, something is off. Check in periodically with your child to be sure their backpack is comfortable and they aren't experiencing any pain. If so, contact us for an appointment to get them back in line and to prevent injury.
Take A Peek at Posture
Not only do you need to be mindful of your child's posture while wearing their backpack, but also when spending long hours at their desk. Many children slouch in their seat and hunch over while looking down at their work. This can take a toll on their neck, shoulders, and upper back. Take the time to make them aware of how important good posture is to their health!
We can assess how your child's spine is developing and put together a unique care plan just for your child. With regular adjustments and the appropriate gear, you can ensure your child's spinal and nervous system health are at their best.