From a young age, I remember my grandmother always commenting on my posture. “Straighten your back when you walk, sit up straight,” and “don’t hunch over” she said to me on repeat. So much so, that those messages are forever ingrained in my head. While it was “annoying” to hear as a kid, my grandmother had a point! All that bending and being hunched over has caused me to experience some pretty bad back pain. I can barely hold my two year old for more than a few minutes without feeling some pain!
Back Pain Issues
As parents, we worry so much about our children’s physical and mental health but often, we forget to focus on back health too. Research conducted by the Ontario Chiropractic Association shows that more than half of younger Canadians experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years. So what are we to do to help our kids? What steps can we take to minimize the pain and issues that may arise from poor back management?
Solutions to alleviate back pain and injury
The first step is to identify the source. A number of things could be affecting your child’s back health, including carrying a heavy backpack, failing to properly warm up for sports, hunching over a computer screen or simply having poor posture. Here are some tips provided by the Ontario Chiropractic Association on relieving and preventing back pain and injury for your kid at home, in school and at play.
Tips for carrying their backpack
Similar to most women who carry big, heavy purses, kids may also feel the burden of a heavy backpack. Carrying a heavy, uneven load can result in muscle strain, back pain and even nerve damage. It’s not too late to get a backpack that is lightweight, comes with adjustable straps and plenty of pockets to evenly distribute the weight. Also keep in mind that your kids’ pack should weigh no more than 10 to 15 per cent of their body weight!
Tips for Screen time
Whether we like it or not, kids use (and love) technology as much as we adults do too. While fun and exciting, using phones and computers can lead to neck strain, headaches and shoulder pain (I know it does for me). Next time your child plays with their favourite device, remind them to hold the tablet or phone even with eye level, take frequent breaks and to maintain good posture.
Tips for proper posture
Sitting, when done incorrectly, can put a strain on our lower back, decrease blood flow to the muscles and accelerate fatigue (perhaps one of the reasons why our kids are always zonked out when they come home from school). Teach your kids to practice “active sitting” by keeping their feet flat on the ground with the back straight, shoulders squared and ears in-line with the shoulders.
Tips for playing sports
Warm ups! I always disliked doing them, but I never realized how important they are, especially to maintain good back health! Stretching increases flexibility and allows the joints to move through a full range of motion, reducing the risk of injury. Remind your kid to do a few warm up exercises (like a light jog) and stretches to ensure their body is ready for play. This helps warm up their body’s temperature and prepares their muscles for physical activity.
To get additional tips, make sure you visit Ontario Chiropractic Association for more information on bones, muscles, joints and the central nervous system, and as a resource to find a local chiropractor if needed.
Disclosure: I received compensation as part of my participating in this campaign for the Ontario Chiropractic Association. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and I personally have (successfully) used their services several times throughout my life for back and knee muscle and joint pain.