Doing virtual schooling can be a pain in the neck. Quite literally.
USA TODAY Tech reported that, according to a Facebook survey earlier this year from the American Chiropractic Association, 92% of chiropractors said patients are reporting more neck, back, or other musculoskeletal issues since the pandemic began. Kids are no exception. Dr. Jared Vagy, physical therapist, author, and USC Clinical Assistant Professor, says students could be more at risk, since they often do their school work from bed or the floor, slumped over screens for hours at a time.
"Spine hunched and shoulders rounded, that's the classic middle-school and teenager posture while sitting," Vagy explains (he is so right, as any parent of a teen or middle-schooler will likely attest). "This is where parents need to step in and use one of the many accessible solutions to protect kids' overall health," he says.
As we set up work stations for our students at home, we need to take long-term use into account.
What are those solutions? They can actually be pretty simple:
• Get up and move: Every 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb to get up from the desk. You can set a timer, make rules, turn it into a game, or create routines that encourage getting up and moving often.
• The right height: The top of the screen, be it laptop, desktop or tablet, should be at about eye height. (Personal note: my computer monitor sits on a stack of "Wheel of Time" books to get it to the right height.)
• External mouse and keyboard are key: If your child is working on a laptop, and you can afford this purchase (basic versions can be just $20 or so), it can be extremely helpful to avoid wrist, hand, and neck injuries.
• The chair is more important than the desk: "If your budget is limited so that you can buy only a desk or only a chair, buy the chair," says Michelle Despres, a physical therapist and ergonomics expert. Parents should look for a chair where you can modify the height, seat back, seat, angle, and armrests.