Top Tips for Back Health and Injury Prevention as the Fall Season Begins

The kids have gone back to school and the fall season of sports and other physical activities is getting underway. Our NEX Wellness chiropractor in Binbrook offers the following tips for spine health and injury prevention for the entire family:

Find a good quality backpack and keep it light

A backpack is meant to fit snugly (but not too tightly) against the back, and be well balanced on the shoulders — encourage children to use BOTH straps of their backpack as they are intended, even though it might look more fashionable to sling it over one shoulder.

As well, encourage them to pack the heaviest items like binders and text books closest to the back, and to leave non-essentials at home or school to minimize the weight. A good rule of thumb is that the backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s weight.

Improper use of backpacks, and carrying too much weight in them, has been shown in many studies to cause back and shoulder pain, and may possibly lead to longer term problems. (The same can be said for briefcases and purses!)

Return to back-safe study habits this fall

To minimize potential back, neck or shoulder pain when reading and studying, work on a desk rather than slouching on the sofa or bed, and if possible use a book stand so that the book is at eye level.

When in class, students of all ages should remember the rules of good posture: shoulders back and down, chin tucked in slightly, and natural spinal alignment — no slumping forward or backward, and no arch in the lower back. And of course this goes for a desk job too.

These tips are especially important to combat postural problems and rounded shoulders caused by spending so much time on our cell phones and other devices… something parents will want to ensure their kids are doing much less of now they’re back in class!

Ease back into the gym

With vacations and outdoor fun a priority this summer, you may have taken some time away from your regular workouts. As you head back to the gym, remember to ease into it — you can’t expect simply to pick up where you left off. Allow yourself some transition time by reducing the weights you’re using, and increasing your warm-up and stretching times. This might be a good time to invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer, who can ensure you start your new season safely.

Play it safe

You or your kids may also be heading into a new fall season of sports. Whether it’s baseball, football, soccer, cross country, hockey or something else, you’ll want to play it safe to protect against injuries to the low back, upper back, neck, knees and shoulders. Similar to your gym workouts, keep in mind that your body may not have done that sport for a while so you need to allow extra time to get back into peak form, and build in extra time for your warm-ups. As a guideline, aim for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes to warm up, gradually increasing your heart rate and doing movements that you typically use in your sport. You could start with some walking to increase blood circulation to the muscles and back, and then move into some specific sport-related exercises.

Always stretch after your initial warm-up (not before), and again at the end. You’ll want to include stretches for the lower and upper back and related muscles, as well as the hamstrings and quadriceps.

Work with a professional for preventive maintenance and to manage injuries

Chiropractic is a great tool for injury prevention, as well as managing injuries if they do occur. Your NEX chiropractor in Binbrook can work with you to safely and effectively help relieve pain and restore normal functioning to the spine, joints and supporting structures of the body, as well as prescribe therapeutic exercise and recommend strategies for injury prevention and rehabilitation.