Here's how to prevent back, neck strain as your child returns to school

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Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Here's how to prevent back, neck strain as kids return to school
Improper use of backpacks and poor posture while sitting at computers can be significant sources of strain on your child's neck and back.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Schoolwork might give your child plenty of headaches this year, but it shouldn't cause them back pain.

Here are some ergonomics tips for kids using computers and toting backpacks as they head back to class.

When at a computer, maintaining good posture is key to preventing unnecessary strain, says pediatrician Dr. Erique Emel with Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw.

"If they do have a computer make sure it's as large as they can get it so they're not straining their eyes," Emel said. "It's well-lit and when it's on the desk make sure it's high enough so they're not always staring down, looking down with their neck down. They're looking up at the top of the computer to save that neck, save those shoulders, save that back."

The other main culprit for physical strain on children is the backpack. There are some bad habits your child may need to break.

First, wear the backpack on both shoulders. Don't put all the pressure on one side.

If the backpack comes with waist and chest straps, use them. That'll help distribute the weight.

Cinch the shoulder straps tightly. The bottom of the backpack shouldn't go more than two inches below the waist. When the backpack shifts around, it can strain your muscles.

And don't overload the backpack. It shouldn't weigh any more than 15% of your child's body weight.

You can tell if a backpack is too heavy if it's hard to put on and take off, or if your child's posture changes when wearing it. You can also always switch to a rolling backpack instead.