Healthy Beginnings

Tips for your child’s success and health this school year

Carrying a backpack wrong can lead to neck and back pain. Photo: Getty Images

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again — back to school. You buy the supplies, backpacks and new clothes. An important decision you will make is the purchase of a product to carry all those books and supplies.

A good backpack can make a lot of difference on your children’s spine health. With a good backpack, it will help distribute the weight equally across the back, shoulder and hip area.

When carrying a heavy weight in a poor backpack, or carrying the backpack wrong, however, it can lead to back pain and problems.

According to the 2004 article, “Heavy Backpacks Can Hurt Students’ Backs,” published on WebMD, “Most students said they hurt, at least a bit, from their backpacks; 64% reported having back pain at some time. Two of every five children said they felt pain while wearing their backpacks. In students reporting pain, about 12% said it was ‘not bad,’ while almost 90% said their back pain was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad.’”

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to help protect your kids back:

  1. Don’t buy bags with just one strap.
  2. Use a rolling backpack.
  3. When wearing a backpack, make sure you put it on both shoulders with padded shoulder straps snug on the shoulders and the bottom of the bag resting on the waist area.
  4. Place your heaviest items closest to your back.
  5. Carry only the books you need for the day.
  6. When lifting heavy objects, bend and use your knees.
  7. If possible, get a second set of school books to keep at home so you don’t have to carry as much each day.

Sit up straight

Now let’s talk about posture while at school. Most of the time, kids have poor posture for multiple reasons — the chair is not comfortable, they’re bored, their classroom is set up poorly for them to see everything, or they’re tired and just don’t care.

The problem with poor posture, according to the 2016 article, “Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain?”, published at, is that “You may not feel any ill-effects after sitting with poor posture for a few hours, but over time the stress that poor posture places on your spine can lead to anatomical changes in your spine. This in turn can provoke back pain through the constriction of your blood vessels and nerves. In addition, the stress from poor posture can lead to back pain by causing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints.”

If you continue to repeatedly have poor posture it can set you up for more problems down the road. If you or your child is experiencing any of the problems, you should seek out some good chiropractic or medical help for them. Don’t allow these symptoms to become future problems.

Healthy eating habits

Now let’s talk about what your kids eat. The old saying still stands true: You are what you eat.

“It is very important that your child gets the proper amount of calories and nutrients in order for him/her to function at an optimum level,” according to the Daily Nutrition Guide at “The amount of calories and servings of food that your child needs every day is based on several factors; age, gender and activity level.”

Based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, consider these nutrient-dense options: eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, in addition to smaller portions of protein and dairy products, with restrictions on your intake of added sugars and saturated and trans fats.

By doing these things for your kids this year, they will think better and decrease their odds of problems now and in the future.

Dr. Tony C. Jensen is a Reno-based chiropractor who is board certified in the state of Nevada. Visit to learn more.