Backpacks & Back Pain: Massage Techniques to Ease The Pain

Back pain is often associated with adults spending long hours in front of the computer, and can be caused by sedentary office jobs. But back pain is becoming increasingly common among children. What causes back pain in kids? Overloaded or improperly worn backpacks are often the culprit. In the video below, a massage therapy instructor from Carrington College shares some techniques for back pain relief and prevention, including how to give a massage to children.

Back Massage Techniques for Children

Among the home remedies for back pain, massage therapy is a safe and effective option both for adults and children. Below are some back massage techniques specific to children.

    1. Choose an area in your home where your child will feel the most comfortable, preferably a soft, firm surface, such as the floor, the bed, or the couch.
    2. Keep your child’s attention span in mind, planning for a shorter or longer massage based on his or her unique needs.
    3. While a high-quality massage oil would be best, choose an oil or lotion that isn’t too greasy and that won’t evaporate too quickly will work fine. Be mindful of your child’s allergies when choosing an oil, as some of them derive from nuts.
    4. Start with a massage technique called the “figure 8”: place both hands on the side of the lower back closest to you and gently glide them toward the shoulder furthest from you, across the upper back, and back down to the other side of the lower back until your strokes have mimicked the shape of an 8. Repeat several times, gradually applying deeper pressure.
    5. Next, starting at the lower back with fingertips pointing toward the head, glide hands up along the muscles adjacent to the spine, around the shoulders, and back down, using long, flowing strokes to relax the muscles.
      • Avoid applying heavy pressure to the boney structures of your child’s back, such as the spine and shoulder blades.
    6. Knead the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade with your thumb, keeping in mind that they can be quite tender and may require lighter pressure.
    7. Transition into circular motions with your fingertips, moving from the shoulder to the neck muscles. Heavy backpacks can also cause neck pain in children, so you can apply gentle pressure to this area, as well.
    8. Glide hands up the side of the back a few more times before repeating the sequence of techniques on the other side. Finish with one last figure 8.

Massage Tips:

  • Work on the side of the body closest to you, moving your body as you work to prevent fatigue or strain on your own muscles.
  • Keep your child warm and comfortable by covering him or her with a warm towel or blanket.

Backpack Safety Tips

Learning how to give a back massage will help you alleviate the tension your child may be suffering from wearing a heavy backpack; however, there are also some backpack safety tips you can show your kids to prevent the pain from occurring in the first place.

  • Wearing the backpack too low or high can cause the weight to be unevenly distributed, causing kids to lean forward or backward, which can put pressure on the spine. Teach them to wear their backpacks on the center of their backs.
  • Always wear both straps to avoid placing too much pressure on one shoulder.
  • Load heavier items closer to the back so that the weight is more centered to the body and less pressure is placed on the spine.

Massage Therapy as a Career

Massage is a great option for relieving back pain in children and adults. While parents naturally enjoy making their kids feel better, some may wish to consider massage therapy as a career option. If taking your massage skills out of the home and into the professional realm appeals to you, contact Carrington College to learn more about massage therapy training.

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