Summer has quite literally flown by and the back to school season is already upon us. For parents, that means you’ve got a long to-do list ahead of you: school clothes, supplies and backpacks to buy, new teachers to meet, and classes to sign up for. But, is Chiropractic care on your back to school list?
Not only are back-to-school jitters emotionally taxing, but the physical effects of exposure to germs, heavy backpacks, and high-impact sports are all factors that can affect your child’s overall health. Let’s take a look at some tips to help make this back to school season a healthy and happy one.
Poor Posture Starts at an Early Age
For many adults, when we look back on what school days looked like for us, we remember studying from textbooks and creating reports in notebooks. Then, when the school work was done, our free time was largely spent outdoors, in the park, riding bikes, playing ball, or other physical games.
But, today’s children have a very different routine. Schoolwork is done on laptops or tablets and free time tends to be spent on smartphones and online games. What does this mean for the health of our children? It means that children these days begin developing posture problems and “tech neck” at alarmingly younger ages.
Back to School Season and Your Child’s Immunity
For many kids, this year will mark the first return to a full-time classroom setting since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. That means this year’s back to school season will bring exposure to bacteria and pathogens they may not have been exposed to before so keeping your child’s immune system strong is of utmost importance.
Making sure your little one has a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can go a long way toward adding immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. But did you know that Upper Cervical Chiropractic care has also been shown to help boost your child’s immune system by ensuring your child’s nervous system is functioning at 100%? Regular Chiropractic adjustments can help to keep your kiddo’s defense system working optimally so they can avoid any back to school health setbacks.
Be Mindful About Backpacks
Back pain in general is a common ailment in both adults and children, but many parents don’t realize the importance of their child’s backpack and how it is carried.
The truth is that for years, Chiropractors and other pediatric healthcare professionals have warned that carrying too much weight on their backs can spell bad news for your child’s spinal health. During this new school year, it is important to take the time to make sure your child’s backpack correctly fits and is worn properly. Some good rules to follow:
- Choose a backpack with padded back support and padded straps
- Ensure that the straps are adjusted to the right size – the backpack should not sag below the child’s waist. It should fit close to the body with the straps as tight as possible while still being comfortable
- Do not choose a backpack that is longer or wider than your child’s back measured from the shoulders to the waist.
- The backpack should not weigh more than a maximum of 15% of the child’s own weight. Thus, a first grader who weighs around 51 lb should not carry a backpack that exceeds 7.65 lb.
It’s not uncommon to see symptoms like headaches, shoulder pain, and lower back discomfort resulting from improper backpack safety. If you can’t lighten the load, then opt for a trolley-style pack, to minimize the risk of placing extreme pressure on your child’s back.
Teach Children to Maintain Correct Posture
No matter the age, yours or your child’s, sitting at a desk for hours can cause serious posture problems. To make matters worse, when children get bored, they tend to slouch and when they are actively involved in study they tend to bend their heads forward over the book, notebook, tablet, or laptop. Both of these postures can have an adverse effect on your child’s growing spine. The 90-90-90 rule is an easy-to-remember way for your child to know if they are sitting correctly.
- Your child’s knees should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor, with their feet flat on the ground.
- The hips should be at a 90-degree angle
- Their elbows should rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle on their desk.
Of course, it’s not likely that your child will be able to maintain this posture all day, kids are prone to fidgeting, slouching, and sitting in odd positions. But if you coach them to be mindful of their posture, they can adjust themselves when they notice they are sitting incorrectly. The simple act of maintaining a healthy posture will significantly reduce your child’s risk of developing neck and back problems down the road.
Prioritize a Consistent Sleep Schedule
It’s no surprise that consistent sleep and Chiropractic health go hand in hand. Although this is an important tip for your whole family all the time, it’s especially important during the school year. With packed school and after-school schedules, it can be easy to let sleep schedules take the back seat. Sleep is our body’s time to heal and repair from the stresses of daily life. We recommend:
- Sticking to a consistent bedtime every night so there is less trouble waking up early for school during the week.
- Limiting before-bed screen time beginning a minimum of 2 hours before bed can help your child naturally produce enough melatonin, for a deeper sleep.
- Reducing the temperature of your home during sleeping hours (preferably 70 degrees or cooler) helps promote the body’s preparation for restful sleep.
If your child is not getting enough quality sleep both their body and brain function will ultimately suffer. Set a consistent bedtime and stick to it each night. Try not to vary too much if at all on the weekends.
Sitting still for six to eight 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. Additionally, weight gain is a common side effect of a sedentary lifestyle and extra pounds can put additional 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 physical 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. 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.
Spinal Health Is Critical to Your Child’s Development
Throughout our lives, our spines comprise 40% of our entire height. At birth, a baby’s spine is, on average, just 9.6 inches long. In our first year of life, our spinal columns grow another 50% and by age five our spines will have grown roughly another 20 inches. From age 5-10 our spines will add nearly another 4 inches to their length and then by the time puberty ends our spines will have grown an additional 15 to 20 inches.
This amazing growth rate accommodates and helps govern all of the other changes in our bodies while we are growing. It, therefore, stands to reason that the health of your child’s spinal column is a critical factor in your child’s overall health. While most of us think of severe injuries when spine damage comes to mind, Chiropractors know that even tiny misalignments between vertebrae can affect a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
Adding Upper Cervical Chiropractic to Your Back to School List
As you head into this new school season, we encourage you to add Upper Cervical Chiropractic care to your back to school list. During your visits, Dr. Tim of Atlas Specific can evaluate and/or correct your child’s posture and spinal alignment with gentle effective treatments to solve misalignments and inflammation giving your child the best possible start to the new school year.
Make this back to school season a stress-free and healthy one with Chiropractic care for the whole family. Upper Cervical Care is gentle enough for all ages and Dr. Tim always offers free consultations to answer any questions you may have. Checking your child’s spine now can help avoid common school-related symptoms like headaches, upper back pain, and even stress-related issues. Contact us today at 970.259.6803, visit our Durango office at 1800 E 3rd Ave #108, or click the link below to schedule a free initial consultation.
Notice of Disclaimer:
We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but we are NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.