Back-to-school season is right around the corner! How quickly Summer seems to just fly by! While we all anticipate the colds, flu and other infections and sicknesses that our children will get by attending school, there is one issue that most of us don’t think about until it’s too late: back health.
Back health is extremely important to think about and it’s not limited to adults. I’ve had back issues since I was a child and I attribute a lot of the issues to the wrong backpacks I wore, awful posture and having a mom who never really thought about the importance of back health or getting me up and active. It was just never thought about, discussed or even considered. The Ontario Chiropractic Association wants parents and children to be aware of causes of back pain, and research shows that more than half of younger Canadians experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years.
A number of seemingly innocuous things could be affecting your child’s back health, including carrying a heavy backpack to and from school, failing to properly warm up for sports or simply having poor posture. Luckily for us, there is a number of ways to prevent and minimize back pain and injury. According to the Ontario Chiropractic Association, identifying the source of back pain gets you one step closer to managing the pain.
Ways to Minimize and Prevent Back Pain and Injury:
Eat well and stay hydrated.The right nutrients from a balanced diet give kids the fuel to take on any task. Staying hydrated helps their bodies maintain soft tissue elasticity and the fluid in their joints that keep them mobile.
Keep moving!Encourage kids to keep moving. Regular exercise can help strengthen their core and back muscles, making the spine more stable and less prone to injury.
See a Chiropractor! Chiropractors are experts on your and your child’s spine, muscles and nervous system. They can show you why your back is hurting and how to relieve it, including manual therapy and exercises to help stop your pain from coming back.
Things to Avoid:
- Avoid “text neck” Today, kids grow up spending much of their time playing video games, watching shows or learning new things on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. While these technologies are both convenient and engaging, they can also lead to neck strain, headaches, and shoulder pain. The next time your child picks up one of these devices, remind them to hold the tablet or phone closer to eye level, take frequent breaks and maintain good posture.
- Posture Perfect: Whether they’re sitting in class or at the dinner table, always remind kids to straighten up and mind their posture. Poor posture puts pressure on the lower back, decreases blood flow to the muscles and accelerates fatigue. To ensure sitting won’t cause them strain, teach kids to practice “active sitting”: keep feet flat on the ground with the back straight, shoulders squared and ears in-line with the shoulders. No more slouching!
- Warm up!: Before your kids run on the field, court, pitch or rink, remind them to do a few warm-up exercises and stretches to ensure their body is ready for play. A five to 10-minute warm-up like a light jog literally warms up the body’s temperature and prepares the muscles for physical activity. Stretching increases flexibility and allows the joints to move through a full range of motion, reducing the risk of injury.
- Backpack hunchback: Carrying a heavy, uneven load can result in muscle strain, back pain, and even nerve damage. As you and the kids gear up for the coming school year, invest in a backpack made of a lightweight material such as vinyl or canvas to help lighten the load. To evenly distribute the weight, choose a backpack with thick, adjustable straps and plenty of pockets.
Also, keep in mind that your kid’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight – pack only the essentials!
No matter what the occasion, if they’re off to school, a hockey game or simply playing at home, it’s important to keep your child’s back, neck and overall health in tip-top shape. If your child does complain of back pain, numbness or weakness in his or her limbs, it’s best to seek professional advice.
I have been trying to be very vigilant when it comes to back health for not only my kids but also myself. I have been dealing with back issues most of my life, so it’s only natural I want to minimize that for my kids by doing everything I can to ensure proper and healthy back health.
Head to www.chiropractic.on.ca for more information on keeping your bones, muscles, joints and central nervous system healthy, and as a resource to find a local chiropractor.
Do you have any concerns regarding back health? Which tips do you think you can introduce to your routines?
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Ontario Chiropractic Association. As always, opinions are my own.