Preventing Back Problems in Kids
When it comes to back problems, we usually assume they’re “reserved” for older adults. However, children can experience them as well which is why every mom should work towards preventing these issues. Why? It’s because when they’re left unresolved, back problems can affect flexibility, cause pain, and have a significant impact on the overall quality of life. Throughout this post, we’re going to mention the most common reasons why your child could develop back problems and how to prevent them.
What causes back problems in kids?
The most common factors that contribute to back problems in children include the following:
Rates of overweight and obese kids are on the rise, and besides increased risk of various diseases, your child can develop back problems as well because of the excessive weight forms an enormous pressure on the lower back region. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight or obesity have a significant impact on health and wellbeing of young people, contribute to musculoskeletal pain, and have a major potential to cause bone/joint dysfunction later in life.
Poor posture, when walking or sitting behind the desk at the school, is quite common. In fact, research published in the Journal of School Health showed that 38.3% of children who were included in the study had improper posture and most of them were boys. Additionally, 20% of kids didn’t engage in sports activities, and they were more likely to have poor posture than children who performed sports. Shockingly, a high percentage of 7- and 11-year-olds had poor posture as well, 33% and 40.8% respectively.
Children with poor posture usually showcased the following defects:
- Protruding scapulae
- Increased lumbar lordosis
- Round back
It’s also important to mention they reported a headache and pain in the cervical and lumbar spine quite frequently.
Bags are necessary for notebooks, books, and other items your child needs in school. Nowadays, the selection of backpacks is highly versatile, and they come in different shapes, sizes, colors, designs with a favorite cartoon character or sports star. It is impossible to deny their practicality, but the problem occurs when heavy load forms a tremendous pressure on the child’s back day in and day out.
According to the Spine – health, carrying heavy backpacks causes these problems:
- Distorted natural curves in the middle and lower back, thus creating muscle strain and irritation to the rib cage and spine joints
- Rounding of the shoulders
- Child leans forward meaning his/her balance is impaired increasing the risk of fall
Most kids have a tendency to wear their backpacks on one shoulder only. This habit makes muscles strain, so they compensate for the uneven weight. Also, spine leans on the opposite side stressing the middle back region, ribs, and lower back with greater intensity on one side than on the other. The long-term imbalance due to wearing backpacks this way causes muscle spasms and strains as well as back pain.
It’s also worth mentioning that heavy backpacks cause neck pain, shoulder pain, contribute to headaches, and arm pain as well.
Here’s what you can do
Back problems in kids do seem daunting, but there are many things every mom can do to help her child avoid them. The first thing you should do is to inspire your child to be more active and ensure he/she is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. This will help your son or daughter keep their weight at a healthy range. Besides decreased risk of back problems, a healthy weight will also reduce chances of some severe diseases. Along with weight management, it is necessary to teach your child proper posture and ensure the backpack isn’t ruining the child’s back.
Let’s start with the posture first. As you’ve already seen above, inadequate posture causes back problems, headache, and other issues. Luckily, it’s not too late to work on this subject with your child.
Here are some tips that will help you:
- Lead by example, make sure your posture is good before you teach it to your child
- Enroll your daughter in ballet classes/encourage various sport activities
- To help your child learn good posture, get a stability ball and make sure your child sits on it when watching TV
- Invest in the ergonomic furniture
- Walking around the room with book on the head works as well
Your child can do various exercises that are meant to improve the posture. Including:
- Shoulder blade squeeze – child stands with arms straight out from the shoulders and bends the elbows so that the hands are at the shoulder height with palms up. Then, the kid squeezes the shoulder blades together and holds for five seconds before returning to a starting position. Your child should do five reps
- Neck and head alignment – boy/girl places the hands behind the head with fingers interlocked and elbows pointing out. Then, ask your child to gently push the hands forward at the same time he/she is pushing the head backward to form a resistance and wait for 5 seconds before returning to a starting position. Ideally, a child should do ten reps
- Back and shoulder wall angels – to perform this fun exercise, your child should place the hands against a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Then, boy/girl should gently press the lower back against the wall and put the elbows, forearms, and wrists against the wall as well. A child raises and lowers the arms in a small arc while keeping them in contact with the wall at all times. Ideally, your child should work up to perform ten reps. He/she can start with 3-5 at first
TIP: do these exercises once a day together with your kids.
Choose backpack properly
Choosing the wrong backpack can cause as much damage as carrying a heavy rucksack. You should ensure that your child only takes necessary items to the school. Everything he/she doesn’t need for that day, shouldn’t be in the backpack. It’s important to teach your child how to get organized and prepare for school without carrying extra notebooks or other items.
Ensuring your son or daughter doesn’t take more than necessary in the backpack is the easier part. You also have to inspire your child not to carry the rucksack on one shoulder even though it might not be “cool.”
The trickiest part is choosing the adequate backpack. Below, you can see some easy tips that will help you:
- Pick lightweight materials
- Go shopping with your child and make sure he/she tries it out; the adequate backpack size for your kid has a lot to do with their size. Typically, backpack shouldn’t hang more than 4 inches below the waist and with of the backpack should be limited to the width of child’s torso
- Look for shoulder straps that are wide, padded, and adjustable
- Make sure the backpack comes with a lot of compartments that allow you or the child to store smaller items to distribute the weight
- The back should be padded too
Weight, posture, backpack weight, the way your child carries a backpack, and many other reasons can contribute to various back problems and increase the risk of more complicated issues later in life. The good thing is, you can easily help your child avoid these problems with simple tips from every article. Remember, leading by example is always the most important aspect and you’ll, definitely, have fun doing exercises or playing with the kids.