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Backpack Safety

More than 40 million students carry backpacks in America today. Many of these same students carry their backpacks overloaded or fit improperly resulting in a variety of injuries including neck pain, muscle spasms, tingling hands, headaches and lower back pain. This very pain may result in the increasing possibility of damage on posture and development of the spine. In 2003 the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported nearly 21,000 children were seen in emergency rooms for backpack related injuries.

As parents there are a number of important issues you need to know in order to prevent backpack injury and promote spinal health. When choosing a new backpack, it’s recommended you select ergonomically designed features that enhance safety and comfort. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 15-20 percent of their own body weight.

7 Tips on Choosing the Best Backpack for your Child:

Healthy vs Unhealthy Backpack Posture
  • A padded back will minimize direct pressure on the back.
  • Get wide padded shoulder straps that will not hinder circulation to the arms (that may cause numbness and tingling)
  • Waist and chest belts help transfer some weight from the back and shoulders to the trunk and pelvis.
  • Multiple compartments help to better distribute the weight in the backpack.
  • Reflective material enhances visibility in early mornings or at night.
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Correct Size: selection of the pack is important as packs come in different sizes for different aged children

Loading the Backpack: Follow these simple rules:

  • 15 Percent Maximum Weight: This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  • Arrange books and materials securely.
  • Pack only necessary items that you will need for the school day.
  • If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels.

Wearing the Backpack:

  • Wear both straps: By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well-aligned symmetrical posture is promoted.
  • Tighten the straps: Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back while still allowing the pack to be put on and taken off easily. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Put on and remove backpacks carefully. Keep the trunk of your body stable and avoid excessive twisting.
  • Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles. Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back. It should rest evenly in the middle of the back near the child’s center of gravity, and should not extend below the belt for than a couple of inches.
  • Lift properly using your legs and both hands applying one strap and then the other.

Encourage activity:

Children who are active tend to have better muscle flexibility and strength, which makes it easier to carry a backpack.
Once you have taken the proper steps in choosing, packing and wearing the backpack the ongoing assessment of your effort begins. It is extremely important to encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack. Don’t ignore any back pain. If necessary, talk to your child and teachers to ensure that what your child is hauling back and forth to school is truly what is necessary. It may also be necessary to explain to your child that the schedule usually allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day. Thus, giving them time to unload and reload the necessary books and supplies. If all else fails, one may always consider buying a second set of textbooks for your student to keep at home. Although this may seem unrealistic, it is a very simple solution for a child with significant pain.

Posture:

We know that posture is impacted by a combination of factors including good muscle control, strength and flexibility. So, involve your children whenever possible in activities that promote good posture. Get your child moving: swimming, dance, karate, gymnastics, skating, etc. Becoming involved with sports activities helps develop muscular skills as well as self-confidence which is often a strong influence in posture.

Seating:

Seating is often a significant factor leading to slouching. Make sure your child sits in an appropriately sized child-size chair, or a pneumatically adjustable chair. Remember the “Rule of 90s”: Ears directly over the tips of your shoulders, hips flexed to 90 degrees, knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Be sure the computer screen is directly in front of your face. Also, try to maintain a slight arch in your back by rolling your hips slightly forward. Feel free to assist this by placing a towel roll in the arched area. You can also try having your child sit on a physioball when completing homework or working on the computer. The instability of the ball forces core stabilization and good postural maintenance.

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic Care can help prevent your child from suffering from an injury. Chiropractic Care will ensure that your child’s spinal column is growing in alignment and is in good health. If your child suffers from pain, schedule an appointment today, and we can get him/her on the path to wellness!

What is Pronation?

When a foot is severely “pronated,” it means its arches have fallen and the foot is flat. Flat feet are less shock-absorbent, and make for a less stable “base” for everything above—the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the entire body. They can also:

  • Shift the entire body out of alignment
  • Cause aches and pains in the feet, knees, hips, neck and/or spine
  • Lead to injury and problems like shin splints, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis
  • Women with flat feet are 50% more likely than those without to have low back pain
  • Up to 1/3 of people suffer from flat feet

 

Causes of Pronation

The connective tissue, called the plantar fascia, on the underside of the foot is critical to maintaining the foot’s healthy arched shape. Injury and certain health conditions can cause the fascia to stretch out and flatten, but so can everyday, ongoing stressors like walking and standing. Once the fascia stretches out, it is unable to “spring back.” With the foot structure flattened, the body’s very foundation is in trouble.

Treatment

  • Extremity adjusting to ensure proper positioning of bones and joints
  • Functional orthotics in every pair of shoes for pronation control, support and comfort
  • Rolling feet on a tennis ball to help soften foot musculature and connective tissue

Responding to Stress

After decades of research, it is clear that the negative effects associated with stress are real.  Although you may not always be able to avoid stressful situations, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the effect that stress has on your body.  The first is relaxation. Learning to relax doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some simple techniques to help get you started on your way to tranquility.

Relaxed breathing

Meditation or Yoga is great for stress!

Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you’re stressed? Stress typically causes rapid, shallow breathing. This kind of breathing sustains other aspects of
the stress response, such as rapid heart rate and perspiration. If you can get control of your breathing, the spiraling effects of acute stress will automatically become less intense. Relaxed breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, can help you.

Practice this basic technique twice a day, every day, and whenever you feel tense. Follow these steps:

  • With your mouth closed and your shoulders relaxed, inhale as slowly and deeply as you can to the count of six. As you do that, push your stomach out. Allow the air to fill y
    our diaphragm.
  • Keep the air in your lungs as you slowly count to four.
  • Release the air through your mouth as you slowly count to six.
  • Complete the inhale-hold-exhale cycle three to five times.

Progressive muscle relaxation

The goal of progressive muscle relaxation is to reduce the tension in your muscles. First, find a quiet place where you’ll be free from interruption. Loosen tight clothing and remove your glasses or contacts if you’d like.

Tense each muscle group for at least five seconds and then relax for at least 30 seconds. Repeat before moving to the next muscle group.

  • Upper part of your face. Lift your eyebrows toward the ceiling, feeling the tension in your forehead and scalp. Relax. Repeat.
  • Central part of your face. Squint your eyes tightly and wrinkle your nose and mouth, feeling the tension in the center of your face. Relax. Repeat.
  • Lower part of your face. Clench your teeth and pull back the corners of your mouth toward your ears. Show your teeth like a snarling dog. Relax. Repeat.
  • Gently touch your chin to your chest. Feel the pull in the back of your neck as it spreads into your head. Relax. Repeat.
  • Pull your shoulders up toward your ears, feeling the tension in your shoulders, head, neck and upper back. Relax. Repeat.
  • Upper arms. Pull your arms back and press your elbows in toward the sides of your body. Try not to tense your lower arms. Feel the tension in your arms, shoulders and into your back. Relax. Repeat.
  • Hands and lower arms. Make a tight fist and pull up your wrists. Feel the tension in your hands, knuckles and lower arms. Relax. Repeat.
  • Chest, shoulders and upper back. Pull your shoulders back as if you’re trying to make your shoulder blades touch. Relax. Repeat.
  • Pull your stomach in toward your spine, tightening your abdominal muscles. Relax. Repeat.
  • Upper legs. Squeeze your knees together and lift your legs up off the chair or from wherever you’re relaxing. Feel the tension in your thighs. Relax. Repeat.
  • Lower legs. Raise your feet toward the ceiling while flexing them toward your body. Feel the tension in your calves. Relax. Repeat.
  • Turn your feet inward and curl your toes up and out. Relax. Repeat.

Perform progressive muscle relaxation at least once or twice each day to get the maximum benefit. Each session should last about 10 minutes.

Listen to soothing sounds

If you have about 10 minutes and a quiet room, you can take a mental vacation almost anytime. Consider the following avenues to help you unwind, rest your mind or take a visual journey to a peaceful place.

  • Spoken word. Calm (a Free app)  uses spoken suggestions to guide your meditation, educate you on stress reduction or take you on an imaginary visual journey to a peaceful place.
  • Soothing music or nature sounds. Music has the power to affect your thoughts and feelings. Soft, soothing music can help you relax and lower your stress level.

No one method works for everyone, so try a few apps or songs to find which works best for you.

Exercise

Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it is a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. It also helps you get in better shape, which makes you feel better overall.  By getting physically active, you can decrease your levels of anxiety and stress and elevate your moods.  Numerous studies have shown that people who begin exercise programs, either at home or at work, demonstrate a marked improvement in their ability to concentrate, are able to sleep better, suffer from fewer illnesses, suffer from less pain and report a much higher quality of life than those who do not exercise.  This is even true of people who had not begun an exercise program until they were in their 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s.  So if you want to feel better and improve your quality of life, get active!

Kids Care

Everyone is the perfect candidate for Chiropractic Care…even babies and kids! Many adults think that chiropractic care is used only for injuries, while the truth is that chiropractic care is most effective when used all throughout life as a preventative tool against injury and to keep yourself healthy.

Birth can be traumatic on the spine, and if you think about any kids you know, they are constantly falling and getting hurt. That’s just the way kids are. Everything kids do from learning to crawl and walk to learning how to ride a bike can also be traumatic on the spinal column. Getting your child in for regular adjustments is a very effective tool to ensure they are healthy and that their spinal column is functioning well.

Aside from the normal wear and tear kids put on their bodies, many kids go through some other difficulties as well. A few include colic, asthma, ear infections and bed-wetting. Did you know Chiropractic Care can also help your child in these areas?

Colic

Colic is a condition in young infants characterized by an unusual amount of crying. When they cry, they may draw their arms and legs toward their bodies as though they are in pain and may even turn bright red. Colic usually appears between the 3rd and 6th week after birth and is typically resolved by the time they are 3 months old. Although no one is certain what causes colic, there are a number of things that likely contribute, such as an immature and irritated nervous system, food sensitivities and gastrointestinal upset.

The theory that an irritated spine may contribute to colic is supported by the frequent improvement in symptoms with gentle chiropractic adjustments. Because the birthing process is very stressful on the neck of a newborn, it is very common for there to be several subluxations in the neck and back that can irritate the tiny and delicate nervous system. It has also been observed that babies with colic seem to need more attention and are more sensitive to the things around them than other babies – again indicating that there are some neurological differences. Gentle chiropractic adjustments can improve symptoms of colic in newborns.

A potential dietary contributor to colic is the mother’s diet while breastfeeding. Women who breast feed should stay away from spicy foods, alcohol and tobacco, as well as to avoid  eating too much of any one particular food. A semi-bland, high-protein diet that excludes dairy is probably best – at least during the first three or four months of breastfeeding.

If your baby suffers from colic, there are a few things that you can do to help:

  • Seek regular chiropractic care, especially during the first four months.
  • Place a warm water bottle on your baby’s stomach.
  • Rock your baby in a rocking chair or cradle.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Gently rub your baby’s stomach.
  • Go for a drive with your baby in the car seat.
  • Feed your baby more often with less food at each feeding.
  • If you feed your baby formula, avoid soy or dairy-based formulas.

Asthma:

Allergies are often treated with chiropractic care. Many allergic and asthmatic reactions are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system and/or respiratory system. Researchers have found that the immune and respiratory systems depend on normal communication from the brain and spinal cord to control and coordinate their functions properly.

Therefore, if your neck is misaligned, it could cause an imbalance in your nervous system function. This upper cervical spinal joint irritation could possibly produce or exaggerate asthmatic and allergic symptoms. For example; many asthma and allergy sufferers experienced traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents, or falls which could have injured their upper cervical spines. The good news is that we can perform an upper cervical examination to determine if chiropractic care can reduce your allergic and asthmatic reactions. Schedule an appointment today!

Next week we will have another blog discussing how Chiropractic Care can help with Ear Infections and Bed wetting. If your child has issues with either of these problems, stay tuned!!

 

Snow & Ice

In the winter months, we Minnesotan’s tend to do lots of shoveling. Shoveling is a chore that is very stressful on our body, especially when we don’t use the correct body mechanics. To ensure you take care of yourself for the rest of the winter season, we would like you to incorporate these tips when you get outside and shovel:

  • Make sure your body is properly conditioned before donning your winter coat and grabbing your snow shovel. Warmed-up muscles will be less likely to tighten up or snap when under the strains of snow shoveling. You can warm up by taking a brisk walk or doing simple stretching exercises, such as knee-to-chest pulls, trunk rotations, and side bends with hands above your head and fingers locked.
  • Layer your clothing to keep from overheating. This helps to keep your muscles warm, and flexible.
  • Stand erect and push the snow straight ahead, avoid lifting and tossing heavy loads of snow. And especially avoid twisting when holding a shovel full of heavy snow. Bend at your knees, not at your waist to lift when shoveling.
  • Rest frequently to take the strain off your muscles.
  • Try to stand as erect as possible.
  • Take your time, you will minimize injuries

If something does happen, and you strain yourself while shoveling, remember we can help you heal your injury more quickly. Until you can come in for an adjustment, rest and ice the injury.