Back To School – 5 Ideas for a Happy Spine

Fall is in the air, and school is already back in full swing. At any age, wearing heavy backpacks or sitting for extended periods of time can affect spinal health. 

Here are 5 simple ideas for the classroom or office, which will improve posture and reduce tension and pain throughout the spine:

  1. Carry heavy backpacks using both shoulder straps, adjusted so that the pack fits snugly against the body. If possible, use the waist strap when carrying heavy loads. Try to avoid using single strap book bags, and if you use one, frequently switch the strap to the opposite shoulder.   
  2. Carry only what’s needed for the day. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10-15 percent of your body weight. Pack heavy objects close to the spine, and lighter or odd-shaped ones on the outside of the pack.   
  3. If you are spending many hours reading, use a portable lightweight bookstand (available at some university book stores or online). This will reduce neck pain and headaches.   
  4. If you use a laptop, prop it on top of a book or two so that the screen is closer to eye level.  
  5. When sitting for more than an hour at a time, take a 30 second break to stand up and stretch. When you feel tension developing in your upper back, sit up straight and try to align neck so that your ears are over your shoulders, as if trying to make a double chin. Hold for 10 seconds. (Try this in front of a mirror if you can’t get the hang of it). Roll your shoulders in big circles, first forwards, then backwards. 

The spine loves motion. When we remain in static postures for long periods of time, tension and dysfunction naturally develop within the vertebral column. Regular chiropractic adjustments, specifically prescribed stretches/exercises and physical activity will all help to keep your spine happy and pain free. 


 –Article prepared by Dr. Nina Foot, BSc, DC