With Labor Day this weekend, we’re saying goodbye to summer and hello to the much-anticipated cooler weather of our favorite Maryland season: the fall! The new school year in Howard County starts up again on Tuesday, so we’re going to share some back to school tips for a healthy back!
We just recently went into great detail about the dangers backpacks impose on today’s youth. Heavy backpacks have become a growing concern over the past few years in the chiropractic care world. In the adolescent years, let’s say K-12, a child’s body is at such a crucial time for growth. Having a heavy load compressing a growing spine on a daily basis can increase your child’s risk for chronic back pain, back and neck issues, and potentially long-term spinal damage immensely.
Our recommendation is to find your child a good backpack with the following qualities:
- Light and snug
- Made of vinyl or canvas
- Shoulder straps should be wide and padded
- Should have a waist strap
- All straps should be adjustable
But the best way to have a good backpack is to not over pack it! We’ve created this chart for you to easily decide how heavy your child’s backpack should be!
Safely move your kids into their college dorm
If you’re prone to back pain, you probably already know the rule to lift with your legs and not your back! The task of moving your child out of the home and into a college dorm may seem daunting. But follow these simple tips to avoid back pain from moving, and you should be done in no time!
- Label all boxes – most colleges and universities have volunteer students to help on move in day. By labeling your boxes properly with your child’s name and dorm number, you can trust they get dropped off to the right room!
- Pack and tape boxes so the contents are safe and secure
- If you are going to be doing the heavy lifting – make sure you have the proper handling of the box. Balance your footing and get a good grip on what you are lifting.
- Keep the object close to your body and be sure to bend from the hips and knees – avoid rounding your back when picking boxes up!
Keep good posture while sitting in class
According to a 2013 survey commissioned by Ergotron, a global manufacturer of digital display mounting furniture, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day (whether it be in their occupation or in class as a student) and sleeping an average of 8 hours a night. This results in a year round sedentary lifestyle of 21 hours a day!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – your day-to-day posture takes a huge toll on the overall health of your spine! Improving your posture in your average day is what is going to make the difference. So, for students, it is so incredibly important to pay attention to sitting correctly in class, on the bus, in the car, or while studying at home. The characteristics of a student with good sitting posture are:
- Shoulders back
- Chin tucked
- No arch in your lower back
- Ears, shoulders, and hips should be stacked
Play safe when it comes to fall sports!
While your teenager may seem eager and ready for fall football or cheerleading, it is important to remind them that they just took the summer off from intense sports. Help them ease back into the fall athletic season by making sure they:
- Warm up for a minimum of 10-15 minutes before any sport
- Stretch for the same amount of time for a “cool down” after engaging in physical activity
Without proper muscle warm ups and cool downs, the body becomes more injury prone. Stretching before and after sports is also a great way to reduce or prevent back pain! So let your child know that rest is just as important as the game is! If they are sore from practice, show them some of our educational videos on foam rolling and stretching:
- Foam Rolling the Thoracic Spine
- Cat & Cow Stretch
- Foam Rolling the Hamstrings
- Single Leg Band Stretch
Our Final Thoughts
When it comes to reducing back pain this time of year, our number one recommendation is to simply do the best you can at getting into the new school year schedule, all while keeping good posture! So regardless whether you are a parent, a student, or a teacher, (or all the above!) we hope these tools help you reduce and prevent the back pain that can sometimes be associated with the new school years.