Tech neck and backpack safety
Let’s face it: the long hours spent sitting for class, hunched over a computer or bent over homework isn’t good for anyone. As spinal and musculoskeletal system experts, chiropractors are acutely aware of how damaging this can be, which is why they want to help empower everyday Albertans like you to help protect your health.
Whether you’re a parent of a school-aged child or a college-aged student, you can learn how to positively respond to school demands to create healthy lifelong habits and decrease the chances of developing poor posture and strain injuries.
If you or your child already have recurring aches and pain, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. Chiropractors are trained to assess, diagnosis and treat musculoskeletal health throughout the body; not just the spine. Additionally, chiropractors are proficient at treating all age groups, including children, and can provide advice to help bodies of all ages function at their optimum level.
Tech Neck is on the rise
Alberta’s chiropractors are seeing a rise in strain injuries and poor posture thanks to a culprit you may have in your pocket this very instant – cellphones. These strains and pains associated with texting and spending time on handheld devices have been dubbed “tech neck.” Thanks to our love for technology, this condition isn’t going away anytime soon.
Why does Tech Neck matter?
Whether they’re craning their neck poring over a textbook or scrolling through Facebook on their phones, children and adolescents are especially at risk for injuring themselves. It’s estimated that for every inch forward that you crane your neck, an additional 10 pounds of pressure is being applied to your neck. That adds up fast and can harm your spine in a number of ways including: neck pain, hunched shoulders and headaches.
Try these tips:
- Limit screen time:
- Try to limit screen time to an hour or two. If you or your child needs to be on a device for extended periods of time, fit in a 15-minute break for every hour of screen time.
- Maintain correct posture:
- Bring the device up so it is eye level and sit up straight with your chest out and shoulders back. If you must look down, tuck your chin into your neck instead of hanging your head forward.
- Balance screen time with activity:
- Exercise is a great way to neutralize the stress caused by poor posture. Try the free stretching program at Straighten Up Canada.
- Invest in furniture that will help encourage good posture:
- There are so many options available to try! You could sit in an ergonomic chair with a headrest, purchase a tablet holder or raise the level of a computer monitor so it’s eye-level, to name a few.
Pack it Right, Wear it Light
More than 50% of people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teen years. In many of these cases, a backpack may be the culprit. Carrying an overweight load unevenly or improperly can result in poor posture, joint pain, muscle strain and headaches.
Here are some things you can do:
Pick it right:
- Choose a bag made of lightweight material like vinyl or canvas.
- Is the bag proportionate to body size? The top of the back should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom shouldn’t fall below the top of the hipbone.
- Pick a bag with two wide, adjustable straps with padding on the shoulders and along the back. It should also have a hip or waist strap.
Pack it light:
- The total weight of a pack shouldn’t exceed 10% of the wearer’s body weight.
- Pack the heaviest items closest to the body and distribute the weight throughout the bag by using the pockets.
- Make sure you’re only packing things you will need that day.
Wear it right:
- Try to always use both shoulder straps when carrying your bag.
- Using the waist strap reduces strain on the back and transfers some of the load to the hips.
- Make sure the buckled waist strap sits level with your belly button (or close to).
- Download our infographics on Tech Neck and Backpack Safety.
- Help kids learn about their own health with the Pack It Light, Wear It Right Backpack Kit and Stretch for your Tech Handbook by the Canadian Chiropractic Association
- Stretch out the aches and stiffness with the free Straighten Up Canada program, available for kids and adults.