How To Stop Children Getting Spinal Problems

Though children may complain, heavy school bags help develop core strength and postural tone

Back pain in children accounts for only about 1-6% of cases of spinal problems* yet back pain tends to run in families. This being so, if you want to stop your children getting spinal problems you need to be mindful from pre-adolescence without being  a 'doom merchant'  (parents who are over-concerned will subconsciously sow the seed that back pain is inevitable in their offspring . . . and this is not the case!). 

spinal problems often come to the fore during adolescent growth spurts, which in turn often accompany summer breaks and more activity in the great outdoors. 

By all means, Stop your children getting spinal problems . . . .but don't become a worry wart!

Children need strenuous physical activity to help them grow and this will also prevent back problems

And yes, by all means, stop your children getting spinal problems but don't confuse them with 'Growing pains'.  These are true enough. Growing pains come to light as bone growth outstrips the elongation of the soft tissues, so that the growing skeleton gets  (sometimes) painfully caught in a web of its own soft tissues as it shoots skywards. 

The sudden height gain may also overwhelm the ability of the muscles to control that height so that the willowy frame, unsupported by strong musculature, starts to bend and bow in all the obvious places. Adolescence is when problem postures set in. 

High activity levels in childhood stop children getting spinal problems. It makes the bones strong and keeps the soft-tissues stretched to accommodate the bones lengthening 

Even as adults, people often relate how their symptoms came on (particularly a scoliotic curvature) during adolescence.

Obviously, there is not much you can do about a growth spurt - except you always want your children to keep as physically active as possible.

Youthful activity enhances the conditions for growing by making skeletons fully primed in strength. The stretching and bending also keeps childish skeletons pulled apart and loose, so that bones and joints can grow out unfettered. 

Removing heavy  school bags will not stop children getting spinal problems

schoolbag carrying can be the greatest daily exertion for under-active children who by-and -large do not do enough these days. certainly, school bags are heavy  (and i would invariably feel a pang seeing my willowy youngest daughter shouldering her huge bag as she trudged off up the hill to school) but tough as i may seem, kids benefit from this sort of postural training. with the worrying statistics emerging about fitness and obesity in children, it does them no harm to carry their own bags to school. sometimes it is the only exercise they get! Much More important is limiting the sedentary computer/device hours of your children. 

Stop this happening if you want to stop children getting 
spinal problems

Far more insidious for spinal health is what the computer age is doing to our kids, from three or four years on. It commonly goes by the name of 'text neck'. You can read more here about Sitting at a Computer in a way that avoids back pain. 


  •   the protracted hours of sitting
  •   the unusually static nature of that pose
  •  poor ergonomic household setups

Children can sit for hours, inert and hunched over a computer, their only physical effort being keystrokes and pushing the mouse. And Yes,  their spinal base squashes fluid out of their lumbar discs (and remember sitting is 'new' in an evolutionary sense - we used to squat) but it is really the upper end of the spine at the cervico-thoracic junction (at the cross-bar of the shoulders)  where most strain is felt. You can read more here about exercise for posture for the upper back to prevent back problems setting in. 

* Spine 1998 Jan 15;23(2):228-34.
At what age does low back pain become a common problem? A study of 29,424 individuals aged 12-41 years.
Lebeouf-Yde C, Kyvik KO

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Sketch of man holding lower back in pain with product relief information using exercise

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