Keeping Your Child’s Developing Spine Healthy

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As a parent, it seems like every time you turn around your children have shot up another inch or two. One thing you must think about as your children grow is how their spine is developing. Good back health is key to making sure kids grow up happy and healthy. Take the following simple steps to make sure your kids’ backs are as healthy as possible:

Keep it Light

Frequently, when a child or teen reports experiencing back pain, the trouble starts and ends with backpacks. Nowadays, kids carry backpacks loaded with heavy textbooks to and from school, and up and down the halls when they’re at school. Carrying all of your books at once all day every day can lead to back issues. Encourage your kids to keep as many of their books as possible in a locker so that they can lighten their load. Also, encourage your kids to carry their backpacks with both straps on their shoulders instead of just one. Carrying a backpack on just one shoulder puts too much pressure on one side of a child’s spine, potentially causing issues.

Keep Active

Maintaining a strong back is also important for kids. Encouraging kids to get regular exercise, whether through gym class at school, extracurricular sports, or physically active, unstructured free time is essential for healthy back development in children. Keep your kids active to make sure their backs stay on track. Try to choose sports and activities that your children enjoy. If you’re looking for ideas, check out Change the Play, a fitness and nutrition program for kids developed by the experts at Riley at IU Health and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck!

Take Action If Your Child Tells You They’re in Pain

If your child regularly complains of, or experiences back or neck pain, talk to their doctor. The doctor should be able to identify issues with your child’s developing back that you may not be aware of. Sometimes, a child’s back pain may mean that they have a more serious issue, like scoliosis. If it turns out there is a serious problem, their doctor can recommend you to a spine specialist, or physical therapist who will be able to help make sure your children grow up healthy and strong. If you are looking for a pediatrician or specialist, Riley at IU Health can help.

“When picking a backpack for your child, aim for symmetry. The messenger bags or one-strap packs may be trendy, but unbalanced weight distribution can put stress on the spine and lead to worsened back pain. “

Danielle Wiese, MD, Riley Physicians

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