Prevent Back and Neck pain During Virtual learning.
With the new school year being online, students are being on the computers, laptop for a longer period. During in-person school, the children are moving between classrooms or are playing during recess. With online learning, children are more sedentary. Not all children have ergonomically correct chairs or desks. Prolonged sitting can cause back or neck pain. Parents and students can use the following tips to help prevent neck and back pain.
1. Postural Awareness:
Ask your student about their posture. Do they feel pain, tiredness, or tightness? There is no perfect posture. However, there is good and bad posture. Make sure they are not hunched over or are having a forward head posture (the skull protrudes forward). The best posture is a variety of posture. (keep changing position or posture).
2. Take breaks:
Make sure your child is taking breaks between classes to stretch, walk, or maybe do a few jumping jacks. Remember, sitting for a prolonged period doubles weight-bearing on spinal discs in the lower back. Overall lack of movement activity ages heart-lungs-blood vessels.
3. Set up for e-learning:
- Make sure there is a variety of posture for your children especially for the middle and high schoolers who are spending a lot of time at the computer/ laptop. Position your laptop for the most neutral wrist posture you can achieve. When sitting, make sure that the hip and knee are at 90 degrees and the feet are flat on the floor. You can adjust the height of the chair by using books or pillows under your buttocks or feet, depending on the child’s height.
- Angle the laptop screen back so you can see it with the least amount of neck deviation as possible
- When looking at the screen, the child’s eyes should be aligned with the top third of the screen.
- In standing, the desk should be the same height as your elbows 90-degree angle. The laptop is high enough so that, with your chin at 90 degrees from your neck, your eyes are gazing straight at the top third of the screen. Countertops work better when standing.
- Use an exercise ball for sitting as a change in posture. Not only does it help with the core muscles, but also aids the vestibular and proprioception (6th and 7th senses).
4. Stretches that can help ease back and neck pain:
None of the stretches should cause pain or increase pain.
CHIN-TUCK & NODDING: Hold head upright and tall. From that position, nod head very slightly up and down less than an inch 10 times. This “sponges” tissues being compressed under the back of the skull at the upper neck.
HAMSTRINGS STRETCH: Begin lying on your back with your legs straight. Lift one leg to a 90-degree angle, grabbing the back of your leg just below your knee. Slowly straighten your leg as far as possible and hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute. Then lower your leg back down and repeat on the other leg. Make sure to keep your other leg straight on the ground and do not arch your low back during the stretch.
HIP STRETCH: Begin sitting upright in a chair with one ankle resting on your opposite knee. Slowly lean forward, gently pressing down on your bent leg with your hands until you feel a stretch along the underside of your thigh. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute and switch. Make sure to keep your back straight as you bend forward.
Use these tips to help your student learn online pain-free! If your child complains of neck, back or hip pain, feel free to contact TheraCure Physical Therapy for a 15-minute free telephone consult.