Heavy Backpacks + Hours of Screen Time = Bad Posture & Pain

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Back to school… playing sports, seeing friends, studying hard are all things your child can look forward to. Heavy backpacks and hours in front of the screen are not! In this article we discuss the problems of backpacks and screen time and share how your child (and yourself) can avoid long term pain.

Read time: 5 minutes

Heavy Backpacks

Students are weighed down with heavy backpacks, sometimes weighing thirty to forty pounds. Orthopedics believe these heavy packs can contribute to lower back pain and disc compression, leading to painful problems down the road. Heavy packs can disrupt the spine’s development during the child’s formative years. No wonder why back pain is so prevalent in our society.

How to wear a backpack

Carry only the essential items needed for that day. Do not wear the bag on one side because it can cause or reinforce muscle imbalances in the shoulders and spine. Overstuffing packs makes any back, neck and shoulder issues worse. You may notice problem signs on your child: increased forward head posture and rounded shoulders. A backpack should weigh at most ten to fifteen percent of your child’s body weight. A 100 pound child should have a pack 10 pounds, and not more than 15lbs!

Postural Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles around the shoulders, neck and back can promote better posture and allow your child to properly carry the load of the bag. It’s also important  to reset the muscles around the back and shoulders after setting down the bag. We’ll share how our Daily Dozen program resets the body into proper alignment.

Screen Time

If heavy packs weren’t enough of a concern for teens, another big problem is computer and cell phone use. A study by Common Sense Census reports teens aged 13 to 18 average nine hours of screen time every day.

All this screen time causes the shoulders, head and neck to come forward and compromise the body’s natural ability to hold itself in proper alignment. Every inch the head comes forward places 10 pounds of weight upon the neck, shoulders, back and spine. Over time, this leads to chronic pain and injury and makes students more susceptible to injury from heavy loads on their backs.

Not only does this take a toll on our bodies now, but can have a delayed effect on our children’s muscular skeletal system.

Text Neck 

No doubt you’ve seen it countless times… a person over their device with rounded shoulders, head forward and a slumped back. This is text neck, a growing problem. Cell phone use isn’t going away any time soon so what can we do?

How to Avoid Pain (Text Neck Pain/Postural Dysfunction)

Besides throwing away the phones and computers, which all parents have fantasized and threatened to do time and again, we must counteract bad posture through targeted exercises.

I created a program called the Daily Dozen which are 12 simple, yet challenging, weight-free movements that reset the body into its natural position. These exercises strengthen the muscles that are responsible for proper posture and take just 12 minutes to complete. Back stretches for pain relief- In the DVD I teach proper sternum to scapula relationship and raise awareness to recognize and correct poor posture. Today’s “text neck” and “backpack overload” generation will have a chance to avoid lifetime chronic pain.

To learn more about posture and purchase the program through digital download or Amazon, visit betterpostured.wpengine.com.

–  Dale Greenwald, CSCS

Dale Greenwald knows about pain…while competing in powerlifting he broke his back. He studied exercise physiology and created a program that allowed him to compete and train again. He worked with the University of Colorado Athletic Program before starting his private practice in Boulder, Colorado.