Tips to Keep Kid’s Backs Healthy

kids back health

We never really thought of our kids’ back health until our oldest was in the hospital getting some tests done and the x-ray revealed that he was growing unevenly. With gentle reminders to sit up and to have good posture, the issue resolved itself over time but it is one that opened our eyes.

With a husband who suffers from chronic lower back pain, we were shocked to find out from the Ontario Chiropractic Association that more than half of younger Canadians experience at least one episode of low back pain by their teenage years.[i] That kind of pain is not something we want our kids going through, ever.

As parents to four active kids, we are used to them getting scrapes, bruises and even stitches. We may go with the flow when it comes to a lot of things but we always try to teach our kids to take care of their long-term health. Paying attention to the little things that may be affecting our kid’s back health like carrying a heavy backpack to and from school, failing to properly warm up for sports[ii] and having poor posture [iii] are all things that can be remedied before they cause larger issues. 

Tips to Keep Kid’s Backs Healthy

4 Tips to Keep Kid’s Backs Healthy

Avoid “text neck”: This one hits close to home. Times are changing and with that is the influx of technology our kids can get their hands on. Although I am a big advocate for kids not only using tech but mastering it as well, there are some ground rules to ensure that they don’t suffer from neck strain, headaches and shoulder pain. Reminding kids to hold their tablets or phones at eye level, telling them to take frequent breaks and maintaining a good posture while using tech are great ways to make sure “text neck” is not an issue in your home. [v]

kids back health

Backpack hunchback: You may not be ready to shell out the $$$ on back-to-school stuff just yet but keep in mind that backpacks are a big culprit when it comes to kid’s back health. Muscle strain, back pain and even nerve damage are all caused by carrying heavy, uneven loads. When you are heading out next month to grab school gear for your kids, invest in a backpack that is made with lightweight material such as vinyl or canvas and also look for thick, adjustable straps to distribute the weight evenly. TIP: Kids’ backpacks should weigh no more than 10-15% of their body weight-remember that when packing.[i]

kid's back health

Posture perfect: It is so easy to slouch, even I need reminding to sit up straight. A great technique to teach kids from a young age is how to do “active sitting” where they place their feet flat on the ground with their backs straight, shoulders squared and ears in-line with the shoulders. [vi]] Poor posture puts pressure on the lower back, decreases blood flow to the muscles and accelerates fatigue, all which can be problematic down the line.

Warm up!: Even if your kids are like mine and never seem to stop moving, it is important to get them to warm-up before they run for the field, court, pitch or rink. Jogging in place or spending 5-10 minutes doing simple exercises and stretches will increase flexibility, raise body temperature and reduce the risk of injury.[viii]

kid's back health

Identifying the Sources & Treating the Symptoms

Now that we have shared some tips on how to keep our kids’ backs safe, it is important for you to do the same in your home. By looking at our kids’ actions during the day we can help them take the right steps to prevent health issues later.

Even with the best prevention, issues may arise. If your child ever complains about back pain, numbness or weakness in his or her limbs it is in their best interests to seek professional advice, such as a chiropractor.

Chiropractors will not only show you or your child ‘why’ the back is hurting but show you techniques to relieve it, including manual therapy and exercise to stop it from coming back.v  

The Ontario Chiropractic Association has information to keep you bones, muscles, joints and central nervous system healthy PLUS you can look up a local chiropractor to help with any current issues.  

[i] Ontario Chiropractic Association. Pack it light, wear it right. https://ocaprod2.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/Documents/Public%20Education/Pack%20it%20Light%20Handout.pdf. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[ii] Better Health Channel. Back pain in children. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/back-pain-children. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[iii] MedBroadcast.com Kids and back problems. http://www.medbroadcast.com/Channel/Back-Health/Back-care/Kids-and-back-problems. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[iv] Ontario Chiropractic Association. Low back pain and chiropractic. https://youtu.be/Xxo8rsXQrj8. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[v] Ontario Chiropractic Association. Text neck: How to avoid strains and pains. https://www.chiropractic.on.ca/text-neck-how-to-avoid-strains-and-pains. Last accessed: May 29, 2017.

[vi] Ontario Chiropractic Association. Sitting down on the job. https://www.chiropractic.on.ca/sitting-down-on-the-job-your-back-health. Last accessed: May 29, 2017.

[vii] Teens Health. Stretching. http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/stretching.html. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[viii] Boomerang Health. Why Should My Child Stretch Prior To Playing Sports? http://www.boomeranghealth.com/blog/orthopaedic-sports-physiotherapy/why-should-my-child-stretch-prior-to-playing-sports/#.V2xYFfkrKUk. Last accessed: May 29, 2017.

[ix] Healthy Back. The 7 Things You Should Be Doing for Your Spine. http://www.healthyback.com/article/The-7-things-you-should-be-doing-for-your-spine/174 . Last accessed May 29, 2017.

[x] Ontario Chiropractic Association. Pack it light, wear it right on the go. https://ocaprod2.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/Documents/Public%20Education/adult-packitlightonthegobrochure.pdf. Last accessed May 29, 2017.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Ontario Chiropractic Association. Opinions are, as always, my own.
Aneta Alaei
Aneta Alaei

Aneta is a Toronto-based mom of four that loves a good meal, great company, and learning something new. In her free time, you can find her trying to keep yet another plant alive.

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  1. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    August 21, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    When my kids went to school in Germany their backpacks were only allowed to weigh a certain weight (too long ago that I remember what that was!), some of the backpacks were even able to weigh themselves which was pretty neat. If it was too heavy they were even entitled to leave stuff at home – no matter what the teacher had said. This was also brought about because too many children were having back problems because their backpacks were too heavy with school books (as was the homework often!)

  2. nicolthepickle
    August 22, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    I can see kids getting backaches from too much weight in their backpacks. The comment from Elizabeth above^– was really interesting to me.

  3. LisaM
    August 23, 2017 / 7:10 am

    Oh gosh – I hadn’t even thought of that. Thankfully he doesn’t have to carry much to school yet.

  4. Corry L.
    August 23, 2017 / 8:42 pm

    I have back problems partly because of my posture and how I sat when I was growing up and developed scoliosis. I don’t want my kids to suffer the same. Thanks so much posting these tips!

  5. Alicia Boisvert
    August 23, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    Anything to do with Chilean and health is very beneficial thank you for this

  6. Carole D
    August 24, 2017 / 1:27 am

    Great tip it’s very important to take care of your back!

  7. Debbie White Beattie
    August 24, 2017 / 3:48 am

    I seen a documentary and one of the issues for kids now and in the future was “bad backs ” from hunching over their phones, computers and video games. One of the other problems is their eyes from eye strain and their saying both of these issues will be epidemic propositions.

  8. Lynda Cook
    August 24, 2017 / 11:02 am

    back health is very important and I see some of these kids have way to much stuff in their bags anymore, my granddaughter is one of them that has more books and stuff in her backpack then she even weighs

  9. kathy downey
    August 24, 2017 / 11:41 am

    Great post, too much weight in their backpacks can cause problems down the road !

  10. Calvin F.
    August 24, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    Now more than ever it’s very important to be aware of back health.. lots of back problems even in early ages

  11. Darren Scrubb
    August 24, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Great info parents will enjoy to have for their children.

  12. erin n
    August 24, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    great information – thank you 🙂

  13. John C
    August 24, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    Great advice for great posture.

  14. Janet M
    August 24, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    Thank you for the tips. We need to develop practices to keep us safe and healthy as we age.

  15. AD
    August 24, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    Great post! I find that keeping kids moving and active is a great way to increase their back health and core health.

  16. Julie
    August 25, 2017 / 11:49 am

    This is not a subject I know much about at all, but obviously should. Thanks for the info!

  17. kathy downey
    August 25, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    Having a proper backpack really makes a difference,all backpacks are not made the same !

  18. Tammi L.
    August 25, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    I see the backpack problem all the time… I bought my daughter one on wheels but the kids mocked her for it and she won’t use it. They carry way too much stuff and I wish the schools would think about this issue!

  19. Rosanne Robinson
    August 26, 2017 / 9:27 pm

    These are great tips, thanks. It’s so important to have a proper fitting backpack to distribute the weight in order to avoid back issues for the kids.

  20. HEIDI C.
    August 26, 2017 / 11:57 pm

    I was terrible about carrying my back pack only on my left shoulder and caused a definite curve on that side versus the right. I make sure that my kids use both straps properly.

  21. Kristi F
    August 27, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    I used to carry my backpack on my right side when I was a kid. These are all great reminders of how important preventive care is.

  22. Treen Goodwin
    August 29, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Great post , and tips thanks for sharing 🙂 Kids can truly hurt their backs with the load they carry in their backpacks !

  23. Alicia Boisvert
    September 4, 2017 / 1:49 am

    Awesome!’ Keeping kids moving everyday is key!

  24. September 5, 2017 / 9:03 am

    Great tips..I hated backpacks as school bags..the amount of stuff that went into them and the weight..some days I had to help my daughter carry hers to school

  25. Lynda Cook
    September 9, 2017 / 10:04 am

    The kids would love the FLAVOUR-PACKED TURKEY LENTIL RAGU, sounds very tasty!!

  26. Lynda Cook
    September 9, 2017 / 10:05 am

    Ooops wrong spot…lol

  27. Donna L.
    September 12, 2017 / 1:20 am

    Great information. Heavy backpacks are a big concern.

  28. Leslie Crosbie
    September 12, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    I remember how heavy my backpack was…first day especially!

  29. Elizabeth Matthiesen
    September 12, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    So isn’t there a weight limit on how much can be in their backpacks? How about the amount of homework they get? There were rules for that too when my kids were in school. There was a limit set for all the homework and for each individual subject too, I used that too when the homework was too much or taking too long I’d write on the homework and that was that.

  30. September 13, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    These are great tips and hopefully there is now an awareness as to how these heavy backpacks can injur a cild’s back.Thanks for the information and great review.

  31. Donna L.
    October 4, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Great tips. Never too early to protect our backs.

  32. erin n
    October 28, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    i never really give much thought to the kid’s backs.. thank you for this post 🙂

  33. kathy downey
    June 29, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    My daughter complained often about all the books they were required to take home each day!