Guilderland, NY – It’s back to school time! As summer comes quickly to a close, parents and students alike are getting back into the early morning routine, all while juggling homework and extracurricular activities. Follow these tips to keep your kids healthy for back to school.
Invest in a Good Backpack: One third of school-aged children complain of back pain related to a heavy or ill-fitting backpack. A properly fitted backpack should have two wide padded straps, fit snugly around the shoulders, and rest against the body. The backpack should never hang more than 4 inches below the waistline, and should not cover more than three quarters of the length of your child’s back. Packs with chest and waist straps, and multiple storage compartments can help to evenly distribute and balance the weight being carried. When packing the backpack, place the heaviest items in the compartments as close to their body as possible. Remember the pack should not weigh more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight to prevent increased pressure on their shoulders and developing spines. If your child has a locker at school, remind them to make frequent stops to drop off books or materials they do not need for their next class.
Encourage Perfect Classroom Posture: You likely already encourage your children to stand up straight, so why not talk to them about posture while sitting at their desk at school? Students notoriously sit slumped over, looking down at what they are working on. To combat “slouched student syndrome”, children should sit up straight with shoulders back. Ears, shoulders, and hips should be in a straight line, and feet should rest flat on the floor. Ideally, books and screens should be brought up to eye level. Between classes, remind your child to stand up, walk around and stretch. From kindergarten to 12th grade and beyond, students will spend a lot of time sitting in school, so it is never too early to emphasize the importance of good desk posture. The same rules apply while hitting the books and studying at home.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule: School aged kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. It is imperative for children to get enough rest to ensure that they are at their best to learn, grow and develop. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake up time, even on weekends. Encourage children to shut down the technology, TV, computers and cell phones an hour before bedtime.
Ease Into Activity: Back to school also means the beginning of organized fall sports, phys ed class, and other athletic activities. Keep in mind that if your child took a break from sports specific activities over summer vacation, it is important to return to play gradually. At least 10 to 15 minutes should be spent doing a proper warm up prior to activity. A cool down including stretching of the muscle groups used during activity should be completed when they are finished. A child’s workouts should always be reasonable for their age, fitness, and skill level. Finally, growing children need to try many different activities to prevent repetitive overuse injuries.
Children should never have back pain so if they are complaining of discomfort they need to be evaluated. We work with children of all ages at our office. We would like to wish you and your family a happy, healthy, start to the school year! If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact us at the Sports & Spinal Wellness Center at 518-869-3415. Please visit our website for more information at www.sportsandspinalwellness.com. We would be happy to be a part of your healthcare team.