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Back to School Tips to Stay Healthy

Technology in the Classroom

Athletico spine specialists and occupational therapists say teens and tweens who bury their heads and hands in their iPads, Lap Tops, Chrome Books and/or cellphones for several hours a day can inadvertently change their posture. It’s been dubbed “Text Neck” (neck slumped forward, shoulders rounded and tight chest muscles).

Kids can return to school and keep posture top of mind with a few stretches:

  • Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Pinch your shoulder blades back behind you, working to touch your elbows. Once back as far as you can go, hold this position for 5 seconds before relaxing. Repeat this 20 to 30 times.
  • Neck Stretch: sit up nice and tall with your head held high. Pull chin toward your chest, creating a double chin, and hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat this 20 to 30 times.
  • Chest Stretch: stand in the middle of a doorway and hold both ends of the door frame. Lean forward until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 20 to 30 times.

Avoid Injuries and Stay Healthy with A+ Tips from Athletico

As students get ready to head back to school this year, many will load up backpacks, join school sports teams and engage in new activities after months of summer vacation, making them more prone to injury. The physical therapists with Athletico offer the following tips to help keep kids safe and healthy this school season.

Posture Tips/Ergonomics – Whether sitting in the classroom or studying at home, students should practice the following for good spine health:

  • Sit in a chair – not a bed or couch – when studying or working at a computer, keeping knees  at a 90° angle with feet flat on the floor.
  • Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time.  If there is no opportunity to stand up during class, students should occasionally straighten legs, roll shoulders and lift their chins to the ceiling holding for 15-30 seconds
  • Maintain healthy posture when working at a laptop or tablet. Situate the device so that the wrists remain in a neutral pose and position the screen in a way that does not cause the head to constantly bend forward. The eyes will ideally contact the top of the monitor when the chin is parallel to the floor.

back-to-school_backpackBackpacks – While backpacks are often considered a fashion statement, students need to make sure that their backpack makes the grade by:

  • Wearing both straps. Using one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack, causing strain on the back.
  • Carrying only what they need. Students should only carry up to 15% of their body weight.
  • Loading it correctly. Put the heaviest items closest to the back and arrange them so they won’t slide.
  • Lugging around a heavy purse or bag? Click Here to read tips for parents to prevent back pain.

Click to view how to properly wear a backpack

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Concussions – Starting the school year may mean joining the starting line. Every coach, parent and athlete should know the facts about head injuries and what to do including:

  • Seeing a medical professional for any head injury. There is no such thing as a minor incident. Athletico’s athletic trainers are specialists when it comes to concussions, trained on the latest concussion evaluation tests and return-to-play guidelines.
  • Being aware of, symptoms, which are not always apparent. They can be as subtle as a headache or feeling sluggish, not just the telltale signs of dizziness or loss of consciousness.
  • Continuing to monitor. Symptoms may not surface until 48 to 72 hours after an injury. Any athlete who sustains a head injury should not return to play until cleared by a licensed healthcare provider.

Stretching – Stretching is critical for safe training in sports, but it also helps maintain general flexibility for daily activities. Students should warm up before activity and stretch after the big game or study session. Stretch basics include:

  • Stretching muscles on both sides of the body to keep balanced.
  • Pushing stretches but not to the point of pain, which can lead to injury. Only a slight tension should be felt.
  • Keeping slow and steady movements for the safest stretches. Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds.

Hydration – Staying hydrated is important for all students as they head back to school in late summer months, but is especially vital for athletes. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps and – in severe cases – death. To help student athletes stay hydrated Athletico experts advise:

  • Hydrating not just during the workout, but before, before, during and after any strenuous exercise:
  • 16 – 20 ounces of water two hours before moderately intense exercise in the heat.
  • 8 –12 ounces 10–15 minutes before going out in the heat.
  • 3 – 8 ounces of drinks with sodium and electrolytes every 15–20 minutes when exercising longer than 60 minutes, and 16–20 ounces of water after exercise for every pound lost.
  • Monitoring urine hydration levels by color. Very pale to light yellow urine is ideal. Anything darker than that would indicate dehydration.
  • Carrying a water bottle throughout the day and consuming water-packed foods, such as grapes, tomatoes or watermelons, help keep student athletes hydrated.
  • Be aware of rare conditions such as Rhabdomyolysis. This condition is found in athletes that are pushing their limits too far, while not staying properly hydrated.
  • Beat the heat! Heat Rash, Heat Syncope, Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion,  and Heat Stroke are all illnesses caused by the heat. To find out more about each illness and how to prevent them click here.

If you would like to learn more from an Athletico physical therapist, please use the button below to request an appointment!

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