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Need a Bigger Band-Aid? Preventing Back Pain in Kids

Jan 1, 2023

Kids Backpack Pain

Uh-oh! Aches and pains are yucky. Back pain in kids can be annoying, troublesome, and get in the way of completing daily tasks. Plus, no one wants to feel uncomfortable. There are a number of reasons why your child might develop an achy back. Back pain is a relatively common issue that kids of any age can experience. The best treatment for anything, including back pain, is a little thing we like to call “prevention.” We’ve given you some thoughtful ideas on how to prevent back pain for your child.

Sit Straight! Put Good Posture into Place

Slouching is a recipe for disaster when it comes to a healthy back. We don’t have to tell you that technology has made it particularly challenging to keep our backs straight during the day-to-day. Keeping the back in proper alignment reduces the stress placed on the joints and makes for happier muscles. Here are some good posture techniques to tech your kiddo:

  • Knees at a 90-degree angle
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Back placed against the back of the chair to avoid slouching forward and to maintain a straight spine
  • Relax your shoulders

If it’s tough for your child to maintain good posture for any reason, try using an exercise ball or stool to sit on. If the chair has no back, then your child will use those core muscles to stabilize and keep straight. 

Couch Potato No More

Okay, okay. It’s just fine to sit in moderation. That said, sitting for long periods of time is less than ideal for health as a whole and can easily contribute to back pain in kids. Sitting places a lot of pressure on the joints, bones, and muscles that were designed to move! To help remedy this, set a timer. After a certain period of time, have your child get up for a break. Gentle stretching makes for an excellent movement break option because it improves flexibility and range of motion. Of course, anything from going outside to just getting up for a glass of water will make a big difference. The idea is to just get up and move that body around.

Maintaining/Losing Weight and Back Pain in Kids

Creating more time to move will also help your child lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Obesity in kids is detrimental to health for many reasons. Extra weight places strain on the hips, knees, and backs. Aches and pains in these regions of the body can result. When encouraging your child to get up and move, allow them to explore movement at their own pace. Doing too much too soon can cause overuse injuries. Focus on what they would find fun during their breaks in the day. Don’t forget to add in veggies during mealtime too!

Abs of Steel

Strong core muscles help support the body, so when they are weaker, back pain tends to follow right behind. If your child frequently experiences poor posture, this could be a sign that they need to strengthen those tummy muscles. You may be thinking that you’ll never be able to get your child to do a million crunches every day, but rest assured. Movement of the entire body is one of the best ways to work your core. Motions like running or walking require your core to keep you balanced. We have an entire blog entry written about core strength for kids. You can find it here.

Pesky Backpacks

Back pain in kids is all too often associated with carrying around a heavy backpack. In order to take on this extra weight, the body leans forward to compensate. One day of carrying heavy items is problematic enough, but when your child has to carry a heavy sack for several days out of the week, you can bet that the body will be uncomfortable over time. We have the very best tips for filling the backpack and choosing the right backpack here.

Stress Reduction

Stress is the root cause of so, so, so many problems. Stress and back pain hold hands too. When we engage in our flight-or-fight response, it causes our body’s to tense up. If that’s not bad enough, stress also comes with an unpleasant emotional feeling, making us less likely to move and act out in our own interest. When we’re stressed, we pay less attention to our body and more attention to the stressor. This could mean that we engage more in slouching, overeating, and other behaviors that could contribute to back pain. For our kids, it’s important to be a role model when handling stress and to speak about anything that may be troubling. Allow your child to engage in non-stressful activities throughout the day too in order to keep this unwanted house guest away. 

Conditions of Concern 

Kids’ back pain is a real pain in the neck because even with prevention tactics, sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. There are times when sports injuries arise or even certain medical and spinal conditions like scoliosis. Never ignore childhood back pain. If aches and pains persist after several days, seek guidance from your pediatrician. They may encourage physical therapy for kids to help resolve the back pain that has become a nuisance. Physical therapists can provide exercises that are both fun and functional.

From upper to lower back pain in kids, you’ll want to do what it takes to make them feel better. Our pediatric physical therapy team can help.