Back to School: A Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Back

Author: Dr. Kimberly Huynh D.C.

August 30, 2023 · 6 min

With hours spent sitting in class or hunched over textbooks, it's easy for your back to suffer. Whether you are a mom or a dad reading, or you’re a student yourself, we created a simple guide to maintain a healthy back for the school season.

1. Ergonomic Essentials

Having an ergonomic backpack and chair is a good investment for your back health. Look for a backpack with padded straps and multiple compartments to evenly distribute the weight of your books and supplies. When sitting, choose a chair that supports your lower back and promotes proper posture.

💡Tip #1: Adjust your chair and computer screen to the right height and invest in a keyboard and mouse that allow for comfortable typing without straining your wrists or back.

2. Mindful Postures

Whether you're at your desk or waiting for the bus, maintain a neutral spine by keeping your shoulders back and your chin parallel to the ground. Avoid slumping or arching your back, as this can lead to discomfort over time.

3. Stay Active

Regular physical activity is essential for overall health, including the health of your back. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or yoga. These exercises help strengthen your core muscles, which play a crucial role in supporting your spine.

4. Stretch it Out

Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to keep your back muscles flexible and prevent stiffness. Simple stretches like the cat-cow stretch, hamstring stretches, and torso twists can alleviate tension and improve your spine's mobility.

5. Proper Lifting Technique

Whether you're grabbing a heavy textbook or picking up your backpack, use proper lifting techniques to reduce the risk of straining your back muscles.

💡Tip #2: Bend at your knees, engage your core muscles, and lift with your legs, not your back.

6. Manage Backpack Weight

Aim to keep your backpack weight at a reasonable level, ideally around 10-15% of your body weight. For example, if you are 80 lbs, your backpack weight ideally should be 8 lbs to 12 lbs.

💡Tip #3: If you have multiple heavy items, distribute the weight evenly between compartments.

7. Proper Lifting Technique

Long study sessions can lead to extended periods of sitting, which may contribute to back pain. Set a timer to remind yourself to take short breaks every 30-45 minutes. Use these breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around to relieve pressure on your spine.

8. Sleep Support

Quality sleep is vital for a healthy back. Invest in a mattress and pillow that provide adequate support for your spine's natural curves.

💡Tip #4: If you're a side sleeper, consider placing a pillow between your knees to align your hips and reduce strain on your lower back.

💡Tip #5: If you’re a back sleeper, consider placing a pillow under your knees to lessen the strain on your lower back.

Above all, pay attention to your body's signals. If you experience persistent back pain or discomfort, don't ignore it. Consult a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice and treatment options.

Download our summarized shareable PDF for essential tips and tricks to keep your back healthy as you dive into the new school year. Remember, a healthy back sets the foundation for a successful school year!

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