Have you ever wondered why our moms told us, “Do not slouch!” I remember my mom telling me that all the time when I was young. I spend most of my childhood doing homework, talking on the phone, watching TV, reading books, and playing video games for hours without moving, or without stretching for a few hours. As kids we thought that we were indestructible. We should pay more attention to our moms. Doctors say that our kids are paying the price with back pain, neck pain and muscle aches due to improper posture, not stretching, and taking a break. Patricia Smith of Triangle Eye Physicians says, “Kids have a limited degree of awareness, so they'll just play and play until they're exhausted. You've got to parent and limit the amount of computer time.” Taking breaks and setting boundaries is important because improper posture is creating a great deal of stain on neck and shoulders.

A comparison of survey data from Finnish university students was taken in 2000 and 2012 shows an increasing trend of musculoskeletal complaints among the population. This research reported that 29% of students reported neck and shoulder-related pain on a weekly basis in 2012 compared with 25% in 2000. This research also reported that students suffering with lower back pain increased from 10% to 14%, joint and limb pain increased from 7% to 8%, and temporomandibular joint pain increased from 4% to 5%.

Amy Howes, a physical therapist for WakeMed, offered a back pain solution that will help you and your child: correct posture. Make sure that you have a chair that supports your lower back while sitting at the computer and your feet are flat on the floor. Make sure that the computer is positioned straight or just below eye level to reduce neck strain. Do not use a laptop while sitting on the bed or couch. You'll have the tendency to bend over or “slouch” which puts more strain on your lower back and neck.

Here is another back pain solution: stretching. Sit up straight, put your arms out to your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades together for 10 to 20 seconds. Give yourself a big hug for 5 to 10 seconds; reverse your arms and repeat. Stand up and stretch your arms to the ceiling and then bend your torso side by side; stretching out your back and side muscles.

If you or your child is in pain, a good back pain solution to remove pain is practice the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) for the first 72 hours after the pain began. Apply heat using a heating pad, taking a warm shower or bath. Sleep lying on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs to reduce the pressure on your lower back.

I'm fascinated that our moms knew this all along. Proper posture, stretching, and taking breaks have always been important to our well-being. Our children's life is all about staring at some sort of computer screen. These tips and tools will help you and your child reduce muscle strain, neck pain, and back pain while they sit at the computer.