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How to Keep Your Teenager's Spine Healthy

22 November 2023

The teenage years will see some of the fastest growth and development that occur over our lives, and the spine plays an essential role in this. The length of the spine will ultimately determine the height of someone going into adulthood, and this is also affected by any potential issues with spine curvature.

There are many reasons why teenagers may experience back pain during this time, and it is essential for parents to be aware of how best to help them to maintain their spinal health while they are undergoing this period of intense growth.

There are several ways that you can help your teenager attain a lifestyle that will help their spinal health, and we look at some of these in more detail below.  

Encourage Healthy Posture

One of the best things you can do as a parent to help your child is to model good posture and remind them about the importance of their own. This may take the form of reminding them to sit up straight when at the dinner table or when they are gaming. It can be very easy to succumb to slouching when doing things that are low energy, like watching TV or playing video games. You can’t expect them to sit up straight all of the time, they are teenagers, after all, but some measure of correction is both helpful and healthy. Just be careful not to verge over into nagging, as this can make them want to disobey the advice they are being given and could actually backfire.

Invest in a Standing Desk

One of the best ways to improve posture is to invest in a standing desk. These versatile products can act as everything from a computer workstation to an arts and crafts area and allow your child to make the change very quickly from working sitting down to standing up. The children's desks change height at the touch of a button, and the variable heights can be perfect for those who want to stand for a while and stretch out their spines.

You can actually burn calories just by standing up for a prolonged period, as it takes more energy to stand than it does to spend time in a sedentary position. It is also great for circulation and for productivity, more generally. Shifting from sitting to standing, and vice-versa can trigger a period of high concentration where it is possible to get more done.

Neither standing all the time nor sitting all the time is excellent for human health, so having an adjustable-height desk is the best of both worlds and allows for good posture while sitting as well as stretching out the spine while standing up. Having a desk that changes height easily means that even people working on laptops should be able to eliminate much of the hunching over they often experience when using one.   

Ensure They Have a Firm Bed

A high-grade sleeping surface can make a real difference to the amount and quality of sleep that your teenager is able to gain. A good night of sleeping on a firm mattress can really help with overall spine health. A firm mattress can provide support throughout the night, thereby avoiding back pain in the mornings. If your child sleeps on their side, suggest putting a pillow between their knees in order to increase their comfort and, therefore, ease of sleeping in this position. If they sleep on their back, a pillow underneath their knees can help to get the spine into the correct position to sleep in maximum comfort.

Ditch the Heavy Backpacks

Carrying heavy backpacks is something that can be the partial cause of serious back problems further down the line, and it is essential to emphasise to your teens that they should only carry what they are going to need in the immediate future. There is no point in them taking gym kit to and from school on a Monday if they don't have that class until Wednesday. Carrying heavy bags around can sap your teenager's energy at a time when they need it for lots of different things, so they should be careful only to take the bare minimum with them on their backs.

The teenage years are ones of tremendous physical growth and bodily change, and ensuring that this isn't hampered or made more difficult by unnecessary physical pressure on the spine is a great way to assist your teenager through this challenging period in their life.

Choose Supportive Footwear

Another helpful way to assist your teenager in maintaining good spine health through their adolescence is helping them to pick out footwear that can aid in their comfort. One of the most significant causes of unexplained lower back or lumbar pain is wearing shoes that don't give enough support. A person's feet support all their weight, so it makes sense that the wrong shoes can contribute to back pain. They act as shock absorbers when dancing, walking, running or any other movements.