Less Pain, More Gain: How to Crush It in School Without Crushing Your Back and Neck

Aug 23, 2023 4:15:45 PM | Renew Less Pain, More Gain: How to Crush It in School Without Crushing Your Back and Neck

Learn how to prevent common neck and back injuries while in school with these tips. Discover backpack mechanics, sitting posture, and sleep habits to protect your body and stay pain-free.

Fall is right around the corner, which means we’re in the thick of Back To School season! Whether you’re spending long hours in the classroom, putting in work in the gym or on the field for the fall sports season, or just walking around campus, it’s a great time to talk about injury prevention. After all, the best solution to fixing an injury is preventing it from happening in the first place. Let’s talk through a few ways to prevent common neck- and back-related injuries that students often suffer.

Backpack Mechanics:

Would you believe that lugging a bag on your back can affect your muscles? Use these good backpack mechanics to decrease your risk of back or neck pain. Try these corrections:

  • Adjust your backpack to the appropriate shoulder strap length. The bottom of the backpack should rest in the curve of your lower back.
  • Use both shoulders straps - using just one can throw off your balance and force your muscles and spine to overcompensate, causing pain and stress.
  • Don’t overload the backpack - no more than 10-15% of your bodyweight!
  • Load the heaviest items closest to your back.
  • Use the belt strap to evenly distribute weight.

Diagram of good and bad ways to carry your book bag on your back

Sitting Posture:

A solid seated posture goes a long way toward minimizing the risk of back and neck pain. Try out these easy tips at work, school, or anywhere you’re going to be sitting for a while.

  • Align your screens at eye level to prevent excessive neck-bending.
  • Sit with your lower back touching the back of the chair.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor with your ankles slightly in front of your knees.
  • Your elbows should be by your side at desk height.
  • Stand up and move every hour - your best posture is your next posture, so take time to move a little and reset!

diagram of the proper way to sit at your desk and look at a computer screen

Sleep Habits:

Returning to school often coincides with a sleep decrease. It’s crucial to make sure you enjoy a restful night's sleep. This all but guarantees that you’ll be able to maintain your energy levels throughout the rest of the day. It’s good to get the most out of your sleep routine by using these strategies, ensuring that you’ll wake up without discomfort in your neck or back.

  • Do stretches that focus on your neck, shoulders, and back before getting in bed.
  • Maintain proper sleep posture!
    • For back sleepers: Place a pillow under your knees to support the natural curve of your lower back.
    • For side sleepers: Use a thicker pillow to keep your head aligned with your spine.
    • For stomach sleepers: We recommend altering your sleep posture, as sleeping on your stomach can strain your neck and back.
  • Consider a body pillow to help distribute your weight more evenly.
  • Avoid uncomfortable positions like tucking your arms under your pillow or head.
  • Choose the right pillow and mattress for you, making sure they provide proper support for your neck and back.

If you or someone you know is experiencing pain, posture concerns, or limitations (whether related to returning to school or otherwise), get in touch with the physiotherapists at Renew Wellness! We are conveniently located inside O2 Fitness and can be reached at (919) 791-6678 or online at https://www.renewwellness.care. 

Written By: Renew Physiotherapy