Fort Myers physical therapist

Proper Seating for Distance Learning: Fort Myers Physical Therapist on Posture Problems

Usually around this time of year, kids’ backpacks are stuffed with supplies, books and “lost” homework. Our Fort Myers physical therapy team will hear complaints about sore backs and necks due to the daily weight of that being distributed incorrectly. (After all, most kids don’t give a second thought to ergonomics.) But for many kids this year, those backpacks are lying unused on the closet floor. An estimated one-third of Lee County’s 84,000 students were attending Lee Home Connect and Lee Virtual School as of late November, according to The News-Press.

Distance learning has come with its own ergonomic woes. Namely, our Fort Myers physical therapy office is seeing issues with aches and pains caused by poor posture as they sit for hours at a computer screen.

Prolonged time spent slouched over a tablet or laptop or hunched over the kitchen table is bound to impact not only a child’s body, but their academic performance as well. The benefits of addressing abnormal postures and positioning are numerous. When they’re no longer in pain, kids’ attention improves, they retain more – and get the most out of distance learning and virtual therapy.

The good news is, even minor adjustments can make a major difference in how your child feels and how well they do in school.

Fort Myers Physical Therapist Tips on Virtual School Ergonomics

One of the most important elements in at-home schooling ergonomics is neutral posture. This is the posture the human body naturally assumes in microgravity. It supports the natural curves in the spine and keeps the body in good alignment. Helping your child achieve this can often be done with a few easy tweaks to the at-home setup.

Some tips from a physical therapist for improving homeschoolers’ ergonomics:

  • Follow the rule of 90/90/90. When a child is seated at a table or desk, his hips, knees and ankles should each be positioned at a 90-degree angle.
  • Two feet on the floor. If at all possible, both feet should be flat on the floor. Problem is, most kids are too short for this! Quick-fix this by sliding a box or a stool under their feet to serve as a foot rest.
  • Back support. Because kids are smaller, there’s often a space between their back and the chair back. This makes sense because these chairs were made for adults! If the chair is too deep, toll up a towel or grab a firm pillow and stick it behind them. Voila!
  • Boost it. If a child is too short to comfortably rest their forearms on the table top with their elbows bent at 90 degrees, prop them up on a few stacked towels or cushion.
  • Screens at eye-level. Your child shouldn’t have to bend their head or neck to see the screen. A stack of books or a riser to elevate the laptop or tablet is ideal, with the screen placed about an arm’s length away.

It’s also a good idea to give your child regular breaks if you can and have them use the opportunity to stretch.

Some indicators that your child has virtual school posture/ergonomic issues include:

  • Poor handwriting.
  • Difficulty maintaining attention.
  • Failure to complete assignments.
  • Complaints of aches in their neck and back.

If you have additional questions about how to improve your child’s virtual learning ergonomics, ask a physical therapist at FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers!

FOCUS offers pediatric physical therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Six Healthy Posture Tips for Kids: Home-School Edition, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York

More Blog Entries:

FOCUS Fort Myers Pediatric Physical Therapists Dedicated to Top Quality Treatment of Sports Injuries, Aug. 6, 2020, FOCUS Physical Therapy Blog

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