Back To School

Sabine Combrié, PT, CST-T
September 12, 2022 / 5 mins read

It’s back-to-school season!

This year I was very happy and excited to see the progress many of my wonderful teen patients made during the summer break. It was much more productive and positive for these young people than the 2021 break, right after the pandemic lockdown.

At last, I have the feeling that after spending a relaxing summer (and not having remote classes during the school year), teens are beginning to get back to being typically relaxed, with less chronic pain and stress.

However, after a few weeks of being back in school, the pattern of stress, back pain, bad posture and neck pain can come back.

Maintaining good posture is always the first thing that adults need to remind their kids about, especially those who are going through growth spurts and who have trouble being confident with their new growing bodies.

Using the diaphragmatic breathing muscle efficiently is also important when we want them to feel relaxed and confident. That will also help to promote better posture, as the diaphragmatic muscle (the main breathing muscle) is located with its insertions on the thoracic spine area and lower rib cage. It is easy to develop bad posture, along with bad breathing patterns.

We also need to keep in mind that as teens get back to in-person school, the heavy backpacks they typically carry could make them more prone to unhealthy thoracic spine posture, resulting in difficulties with proper diaphragmatic muscle use.

Most of them are eager to get into good shape and are engaged in working with personal trainers to help them develop their bodies and reach their personal goals. However, teens with chronic pain or difficulties controlling their body/mind balance -- and who have been working with physical therapists and/or other therapists to feel stronger and confident -- need to be very careful when transitioning to a trainer.

I know that working with a trainer is the next big step on the path of fully healing, but properly managing the transition from the physical therapist to the trainer is critical. The physical therapist knows the limits and weaknesses of the patient as well as their strengths, and should be the main person consulting with the trainer. We want to avoid a relapse and throwing away months of good work with the physical therapist. Nonetheless, I am very happy when a patient says that he/she/they want to work out with a trainer or return to their favorite sport – but I always feel very cautious and want them to avoid rushing into it.

In conclusion, being back to school after spending a relaxing time with family and friends and feeling like you’re back to being yourself again is fabulous! Wanting to go forward and get into shape safely is amazing. So, let’s be smart and consult with a physical therapist and/or therapists before jumping into the big pool. Let’s start a great next chapter safely -- with confidence -- together!