Back to School Tips for a Healthy School Year
Kids like to pretend they are Batman or Black Widow, performing jaw-dropping jumps off the school playground equipment. They demonstrate their Incredible Hulk strength by lifting their 12-pound backpacks overhead. After recess, they resume their normal identities, sitting at a desk or table for roughly 65 percent of their day.
Although children are resilient, even these little superheroes can experience disruption in their day-to-day due to lower back pain caused by those activities. Here are a few tips from your friendly neighborhood chiropractor for keeping childrens’ backs and general health in tip-top condition for Back to School season.
Pick the Right Backpack
Backpacks help children tote school supplies, books, and laptops to and from school. While some kids visit their locker to unload the burden throughout the day, many avoid it to save time shuffling from class to class. What suffers? Their backs.
A heavy and/or improperly worn backpack can pull on the neck muscles, contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain, and more. It can also cause a child to lean forward, reducing balance and increasing the risk of a fall.
Here are a few ways to help children make healthy decisions about their backpacks:
- Choose a backpack made of durable material with additional padding in the lower back area and shoulder straps.
- Show your child how to properly pack their backpack. Heavier items, like books, should go closest to the body. Also, make use of the multiple compartments to distribute the weight more evenly.
- The American Chiropractic Association advises that children should never carry more than 5-10 percent of their total body weight. That’s 10 pounds for a 100-pound child.
- Use both shoulder straps and make sure they are tightened so the load is snug to their body and not hanging more than a couple of inches below their waist.
- Have your child practice bending using both knees rather than at the waist when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.
- Encourage your child to use their locker to store items they do not need. Or, they can carry some items in their arms.
Practice Good Posture While Sitting
Children spend approximately five or six hours sitting while at school, which can lead to lower back pain.
According to Cornell University Department of Ergonomics, up to 90 percent more pressure is put on your back when you sit vs. when you stand. Additionally, many children probably do not practice good posture during their time in a chair.
Coach them to protect their backs at school by following these tips:
- Move books and screens to eye level rather than tipping their head forward to see.
- Keep their back against the back of the chair. Avoid rolling shoulders forward or leaning forward from the lower back.
- Keep feet flat on the floor.
- Take a movement break every 30 minutes.
Make Sleep a Priority
Children ages 3-5 years old require between 10-13 hours of sleep, and ages 6-12 require 9-12 hours of sleep. When a child gets an adequate amount of sleep regularly, they experience improved:
- overall mental and physical health
Prioritizing a consistent bedtime along with enough sleep can help children avoid high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression.
Children experiencing difficulty sleeping might benefit from a visit to the chiropractor to check on spinal misalignment, a common cause of sleep discomfort.
Build a Stronger Immune System
With a chiropractor’s expertise in maintaining a healthy nervous system comes an improved immune system, offering stronger protection against the common cold, the flu, and other illnesses.
Chiropractors’ full-body approach also lays a foundation for regular exercise, healthy eating, and a healthy overall lifestyle in children.
According to one chiropractor quoted by ACA, “As a chiropractor, the adjustments we do are great, powerful and can be life-changing,” she says. “But there are other aspects to a conservative first approach to health care that are particularly important for kids: focusing on adequate nutrition, sleep and physical activity. Parents are looking for answers besides putting their kids on more drugs. This is a great gift that we have to offer our children.”
Chiropractic Care is Safe and Effective for Kids
Chiropractic care is predicated on safety – this includes child chiropractic care. Chiropractors also tend to embrace a holistic health perspective, emphasizing natural, drug-free, non-surgical treatments, and healthy lifestyle changes.
American Chiropractic Association: For every 100 children you see, at least three of them have probably visited a doctor of chiropractic at least once. According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3 percent of children have been treated with chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.