• Dr. Nicole Knapp

How often do you think about your child’s back health?

We all worry about our kids’ health. Cold and flu, cuts and bruises are all normal parts of childhood. But how often do you think about your child’s back health?

Research shows that more than half of younger kids experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years. There are a number of factors that can affect children’s back healthy, and fortunately, we know many ways we can help keep our kids’ backs in tip-top shape.

1. Avoid “text neck”: Today, kids grow up spending much of their time playing video games, watching shows or learning new things on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. While we know tech has its benefits, it can also lead to neck strain, headaches and shoulder pain. The next time your child picks up one of these devices, remind them to hold the tablet or phone closer to eye level, take frequent breaks and maintain good posture. (This advice wouldn’t hurt for adults as well!)

2. Prevent backpack hunchback: Carrying a heavy, uneven load can result in muscle strain, back pain and even nerve damage.Invest in a backpack made of a lightweight material such as vinyl or canvas to help lighten the load. To evenly distribute the weight, choose a backpack with thick, adjustable straps (remind kids to use both straps, not just one) and plenty of pockets. Also keep in mind that your kid’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 15 per cent of their body weight – pack only the essentials.

3. Posture Perfect: Your mother was right, “Sit up straight!”. Whether kids are sitting in class or at the dinner table, always remind them to straighten up and mind their posture. Poor posture puts pressure on the lower back, decreases blood flow to the muscles and accelerates fatigue.

4. Warm up: Before your kids run for the field, court, pitch or rink, remind them to do a few warm up exercises and stretches to ensure their body is ready for play. A five to 10-minute warm up like a light jog literally warms up the body’s temperature and prepares the muscles for physical activity. Stretching increases flexibility and allows the joints to move through a full range of motion, reducing the risk of injury.

5. Eat well and stay hydrated. The right nutrients from a balanced diet give kids the fuel to take on any task. Staying hydrated helps their bodies maintain soft tissue elasticity and the fluid in their joints that keep them mobile.

6. Keep moving! Regular exercise can help strengthen kids’ core and back muscles, making the spine more stable and less prone to injury.

7. Get Regular Adjustments: Kids need tune ups to their bodies just like adults to keep them moving pain-free. Call 262-795-5108 to schedule!

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Serving Brookfield, Elm Grove, New Berlin, Pewaukee,  Waukesha, Wauwatosa, and surrounding areas.

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