A new school year in the time of COVID-19 means making decisions about in-person and online education. In some instances, school districts have already opted to continue to conduct their classes remotely for the time being. This ultimately means more time in a home-based environment, which could result in some habits that aren’t too good for a growing spine. Below, you’ll find some tips to keep in mind to protect your child’s back while distance learning. If your child experiences back and/or neck pain after implementing these suggestions, see a Beverly Hills spine surgeon for advice and treatment.
Set up a space for your child’s home-based learning where there’s a comfortable and supportive chair lined up properly with where the computer or laptop is located. Don’t let your kid slink down on a couch or plop onto the bed. These habits can place too much pressure on the lower back or neck.
The time between classes at school typically allows kids to move around enough to stretch and take pressure off spine-supporting muscle groups. Achieve this same goal at home by reminding your child to get up, move around, and stretch between lessons or during online learning session breaks.
Bonus tip: Encourage five-minute “movement breaks” for every 45–60 minutes of time spent sitting in front of a computer or laptop.
If your child’s school has adjusted gym times or schedules, make sure he or she is remaining as active as possible with these resources. It’s equally important to encourage your kid to exercise at home when the distance learning day is over, especially if school-related activities are limited. Exercise is important for children and teens, since it keeps developing spines healthy and strong. Home-based exercise can involve:
• Walking around the neighborhood
• Playing in the yard
• Swimming (if it’s still warm enough)
• Bike riding
• Engaging in family activities that involve exercise
Proper hydration boosts circulation and helps the spine get beneficial nutrients. Water is also good for spinal discs and supporting soft tissues. Make sure your child has a refillable water bottle or a full glass of water nearby as he or she goes through virtual lessons and does homework.
Bonus tip: Soda and other sugary beverages should be avoided or limited. Liquids of this nature can contribute to inflammation and spine-related discomfort.
Supportive chairs aren’t going to do any favors for children if the kids aren’t mindful of their posture while they’re sitting. Keep your kid’s back healthy while distance learning by reminding him or her to:
• Do regular posture checks
• Avoid slouching or leaning too far forward
• Keep his or her head and shoulders aligned when sitting or standing
• Keep the computer/laptop screen at eye level
Another step to take when protecting your kid’s back while distance learning is to keep up with regular doctor’s appointments. Doing so allows any spine-related aches and pains to be discussed and evaluated sooner rather than later. Also, if your child has any new or worsening spine-related discomfort, report this to the doctor to determine if further evaluation by a spine specialist is necessary.
Distance learning can be fun for students, but if they’re hobbled by back or neck pain, it can easily turn into a life of drudgery. Students’ daily activities present constant opportunities to neglect good spine health, so make sure to keep these suggestions in mind as your kid goes throughout his or her day. If your child experiences any severe or unusual spine or neck pain, reach out to the specialists at The Spine Institute. We offer a wide array of treatments, such as spinal decompression and disc replacement using the Mobi-C cervical disc. Beverly Hills residents who want to take an active role in keeping their kids’ spines healthy can call 310-828-7577 to schedule an appointment.