Tip #1: Use Your Backpack Correctly
Backpack weight is one of the most common questions that chiropractors receive. Your backpack can weigh between 10 to 20 percent of your total body weight (no more than that), so it does differ from child to child. Because smaller children don’t have as much muscle mass, no more than 15 percent of their total body weight is recommended.
Wearing your backpack properly is also important for spinal health. Though it may be cool to wear it on just one shoulder, it can cause misalignment in your spine and back pain. There are two straps for a reason. Make sure that they fit snugly over your shoulders and that it doesn’t droop below your belt line.
There are also some backpacks that come with a third strap that fastens below the sternum to help distribute the stress and take pressure off of the shoulders. This should be used when you plan on wearing the backpack for longer periods of time.
A good backpack with memory foam or wider shoulders is an investment in your education as well as your health!
Tip #2: Fight the Germ Power
Back to school means exposure to all types of new germs and people. You need to be in good health to fight off colds, bacteria and viruses. Getting adjusted by a licensed chiropractor promotes proper immune system function. The nervous system itself (which is connected to your brain) controls your immune system. By getting adjusted, it allows the communication from your brain to effectively and efficiently control the immune system to fight off the germs. It can also help you feel better faster if you do get sick.
You can also prevent illness by washing your hands and keeping them away from your mouth. Promote good hand washing skills by using warm water and scrubbing for at least 30 seconds.
Dr. Bryan Johnson Side note: My fiancée is a first grade teacher in the area. I try to get her adjusted at least once a week to help combat the germs from 20 first graders touching everything. She is much more prone to getting sick, so I like to try to help her prevent illness as much as I can.
Tip #3: Know Your Nutrition Facts
While schools are now trying to improve the nutritional values of their lunches, you still don’t know everything that they contain. Packing a lunch is really the best option because you control everything that is in it.
Try to avoid processed foods and anything with preservatives. A great lunch will have water, protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy and even a little something sweet (just watch the added sugar amounts). Easy proteins to include are grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs or real turkey breast. Avoid processed deli meats due to the nitrites and nitrates that are found in them.
Tip #4: Avoid Weekly Stress with Sunday Prep
To lower your stress levels, make a plan on Sunday for everything that will happen over the week, including your meals and activities.
Know that you need to pack a lunch every day? Try cooking a chicken or a turkey so that you know that you have protein ready and available.
Too tired to cook after Wednesday’s soccer practice? Make a casserole Sunday and put it in the freezer. When you get home on Wednesday, all you have to do is put it in the oven.
New research shows that decision-making is a depletable resource. By planning ahead, you can prep and get ready on Sunday. This allows your week to go more smoothly, gets your family to eat healthier and eliminates the stress of having to think of meals.
Tip #5: There is a Proper Way to Read (and Look at a Tablet or Laptop)
It’s an excellent development that children are now receiving tablets or iPads in school so that they do not have to carry heavy books. This does minimize the weight of the backpack, but it creates a new problem. They are staring at a screen all day long, most likely with improper posture as their head tilts forward and goes over the top of their shoulders.
Children (and adults) need to be cognizant of their head posture while they are using a tablet, computer or even a textbook. Make sure that your tablet (or textbook) is in a stand that tilts toward you and that your head doesn’t tilt over your shoulders.
More and more children are visiting the chiropractor because they are having postural issues with their upper back and neck as well as headaches. As a general rule, you should not do anything in a certain posture for more than 50 minutes. After this time period, take a ten-minute break. Get a glass of water and rest your eyes. This will help reduce headache frequency as well as misalignments and other chiropractic issues.
Tip #6: Sit Up Straight Young Man (or Young Lady)
When you are sitting at your desk at school, keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulders back and your head back over the top of your neck and shoulders. Some kids tend to slouch and start sliding underneath the desk, but they really should keep their back against the back of the chair. Make sure your head is on top of your shoulders and not leaning too far forward. This will help with spinal health (and paying attention to the teacher).
Tip #7: Drink a Glass of Water When You Wake Up
You should always drink an eight-ounce glass of water as soon as you wake up. It re-hydrates you from not drinking the entire night. It will actually start to stimulate your internal organs and gets them moving. It also helps you to wake up.
Do you stretch in the morning? Have that glass of water first! It will get the hydration back into not only the muscles but the discs in your spine.