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Practical Tips on How To Care for Your Nervous Sytem during the Back to School Season

As fall is upon us and back to school season and sports season are getting back into full swing, setting up
the year for success is crucial, especially when it comes to spine and body health. Wearing heavy
backpacks inappropriately and long hours sitting at a desk, can put strain on your child’s growing frame
and neck and back problems can commonly result. In this article, we are going to give you some tips on
how to help your child prevent injury and maintain a healthy posture during the school year.

Back Packs:
Backpacks are a necessity, but if not used properly, they can hurt your child’s neck, shoulders, and back.
The weight of the backpack, the way it is carried, and even the type of back pack, can all impact spine
health. The American Acadamy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that you make sure that your
child’s backpack never weighs more than 20% of their body weight. Wearing backpacks on only one
shoulder or using messenger bags as backpacks causes uneven weight distribution that strains the spine.
Therefore, advising your kids to wear their backpacks using both straps is critical. Furthermore, when
they are wearing their bag with both straps, make sure that the lower strap on the backpack is tightened
so that the backpack won’t sag below your child’s hips. Sagging or oversized backpacks also cause
children to hunch forward. If you are unable to encourage your kids to wear their back pack with both
straps, or if the weight of their backpack is too heavy (such as in the case of teenagers and college
students who may be responsible for having to haul around more books compared to younger children),
a rolling back pack may be the best solution.

The type of backpack you buy can make a difference. Look for backpacks with wide padded straps.
These distribute weight over a larger area, decreasing the strain on your child’s shoulders and back.
There are also some simple changes you can make in how you pack your child’s backpack that will make
it safer and more comfortable. Always pack heavier items, like textbooks, towards the back of the
backpack and put lighter items towards the front. This way, it won’t be pulling your child backward, and
they won’t feel the need to hunch over to balance the weight. Implementing these few backpack
strategies daily can be a big factor in preventing shoulder, neck and back strain.

Children’s posture can affect more than just their spine. When your child is sitting at their desk, or even
after school using their electronic devices, they are probably tempted to slouch in their chair or hunch
over their school work or phone. Both of these postures can have an adverse effect on their growing
spine as well as impact proper breathing, decreasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Not only can
improper posture create musculoskeletal issues such as neck and back pain, but decreased lung
expansion, due to forward posture, can lead to fatigue as well as poor memory and cognition.

At a desk or table: The 90-90-90 rule is an easy to remember way for your child to know if they are
sitting with a healthy posture. Your child’s knees should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor, and their
feet should be flat on the floor, their hips should be at a 90-degree angle, and their elbows should rest
at a 90-degree angle on their desk. This means that they are sitting up straight and not straining their
neck. If your child’s feet don’t touch the floor when they are sitting at their desk, talk to their teacher
about using a smaller chair or a step stool. For electronic use, it is best if kids can sit at a desk or in a
supportive gaming chair versus on their beds or laying on a couch and try to remind them to hold their
phone more at eye level versus down in their laps.

Of course, it’s not likely that your child will be able to keep this posture all day, but if you coach them to
check their posture whenever they sit back down after leaving their desk, this will create good habits
and they should end up spending most of their day in a healthy position. Simply maintaining a healthy
posture will significantly reduce your child’s risk of developing neck and back problems down the road,
while also giving their brain the oxygen and vital nutrients it needs to think and grow optimally.

Stretch breaks:
Teach your kids how to stretch, it is good for their muscles, and it’s a great way to ease stress. The
following stretches can be done in class with minimal disruption to other students:
Neck Stretches: This simple stretch involves bringing your chin to your chest, then bending your neck
straight back then turning your head side to side, looking as far behind you as possible.
Chest Stretch: Sit on the edge of your seat, in the 90-90-90 posture, sitting with your back straight.
Interlock your fingers behind your back and slowly straighten your elbows. Roll your shoulders back and
squeeze your shoulder blades together. Be careful not to arch your back. Pull your hands down toward
the chair for an even deeper stretch.

Shoulder Stretch: Sit up straight and tall in your chair, bend your right arm in front of you so that the
palm of your right hand is in front of your face, straighten your left arm out towards your right side
supporting it with your bent arm, then switch sides.

Leg stretch: Only do this stretch if you have enough room in front of you to straighten your leg without
kicking anyone. Sitting straight in your chair, raise one leg straight out in front of you at hip level. For a
more intense stretch, hold this position while pulling your toes back towards your body. Switch and do
the other leg.

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast or shake packed with protein, healthy fats, and essential
vitamins and minerals is important for not only energy, but maintaining focus and brain health.
Subsequent meals and healthy snacks of low sugar fruits, veggies, eggs, meats, and cheeses, found in
outer areas/aisles of the grocery store or at your local farmers market, can maintain blood sugar
throughout the day and also aid is sustained energy preventing the mid day slump. Make sure to also
include plenty of water. Children and teens should be drinking at least 32-64 ounces of water per day.

Get Active:
Sitting for six hours isn’t healthy for kids or adults. Prolonged sitting has been shown to have adverse
effects not only on skeletal health but on cardiovascular health as well. Weight gain is also a common
side effect of a sedentary lifestyle. Extra pounds put a strain on joints and on hearts. It’s important to
encourage your child to stay active even after school starts. If your child doesn’t play a sport or
participate in some other organized activity, encourage them to be active at home.

Playing in the backyard or a local park after their homework is done is a great way for kids to get
exercise and destress from their school day. You could also start a family exercise routine, using a video,
or going to the gym together. Staying active is one of the most critical factors in maintaining overall
good health. It also helps to keep kids and adults limber and prevent back and neck pain.

Come in for a Tune-Up
Sometimes kids need a tune-up just like adults do. Taking your child to the chiropractor is both safe and
effective. Chiropractors use gentle techniques to correct skeletal problems in children of all ages. Young
children sometimes only require light finger pressure to restore mobility to spinal joints. A chiropractor
can tell you if your child is suffering the effects of bad posture and give personalized solutions. Many
parents have found that chiropractic care is an essential part of maintaining their child’s health through
all developmental stages.

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