Improve Your Child’s Spinal Health: 7 Bad Habits to Break

After 14 years of being an Atlanta Chiropractor, I’ve seen my share of young patients seeking chiropractic care for various spinal issues.  They’ve ranged from 3 months old to high school age and all have responded well to their care plan.  

When it comes to spinal health, here’s a list of the 7 most common (and easily corrected) bad habits I’ve observed among young patients:

1. Wearing a Heavy Backpack and/or Not Carrying it Properly

Studies show that a backpack should weigh no more than 20% of your child’s weight.  If the backpack is too heavy, even when worn properly, it can cause your child to stand in an unnatural position. The added weight pulls the body backwards and as a result, the neck and shoulders lean forward to compensate. 

Another common issue with a heavy backpack is if it’s slung over just one shoulder, the other shoulder lifts up as well, causing the spine to shift.  Over time, this shift can severely strain your child’s spine. 

2.  Extending Your Neck While Using a Device

Research indicates that for every inch you move your head into a forward posture, the weight of your head increases by 10 pounds.  

Extending your neck down and out is commonly referred to “text neck”.  Holding tablets or phones down low on the body leads to over compensation of the neck in order to see the screen.  

In order to avoid “text neck”, encourage your child to hold the screen at eye level.

3.  Sitting with Legs to the Side, Hips Diagonal

If your child sits in this position regularly, it can actually train their hipbones to stay in that position.  And with the hip being the connection between the upper and lower body, any misalignment can cause other spinal bones to misalign as well.

4.  Laying on the Couch with Head Propped Up

While it may appear comfortable, laying down with your head propped up actually causes severe strain to your neck over time.  Whether your child is using a soft pillow, his hand, or the family dog to prop his head up, bending the neck in this way can cause other spinal bones to misalign.

5.  Cracking Your Neck

If your child has to use force to get relief in his neck, it’s not a good sign.  Your body may self adjust if something is off but kids should never be using their hands or any other kind of pressure to move things around in order to get relief.  Leave this to the professionals.

6.   Playing Tackle Football

This may be an obvious one for some but it’s a highly conversion one.  Developing spines simply cannot take the pressure of being tackled and head-on collisions cause way too many concussions.

7.  Sleeping on Your Stomach 

While your child may appear comfortable in this position, sleeping on your stomach causes unnecessary pressure on the neck and spinal column.  Your neck is crucial to your overall spine health.  

Here’s a test. Turn your head to the right or left and hold it there for 10 minutes.  When you straighten it back out, it will feel stiff and possibly a little sore.  Now imagine that pressure over 6-8 hours.  You can help your child avoid issues down the road if you can train him to sleep on his side instead of on his stomach.

Dr. Peterson is a leading intown Atlanta Chiropractor, specializing in Upper Cervical Chiropractic. With over 14 years of experience providing quality Chiropractic care to patients of all ages, Dr. Peterson is a compassionate and understanding practitioner who recognizes the unique needs of every patient and wholeheartedly believes that the Upper Cervical Chiropractic approach can help achieve optimal healing and restore patients’ health.