As a teacher, getting back to school can be just as hard (probably harder) for you as it is for your students. Leaning over kids’ desks, grading papers for hours, or standing all day can do a number on your back. That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you can do to ease back into the classroom and reduce back pain this teaching season.
Try to ease into the teaching lifestyle. A few weeks before you’re expected back in the classroom, try doing some of the things you’ll have to do all day, such as standing for long periods of time. Unless you teach all year round, the immediate switch from your summer lifestyle to your teaching lifestyle can confuse your back muscles. Be sure to keep the Chirp Wheel under your desk so you can use it whenever you need to once you're back in session.
Exercise regularly. In some studies, infrequent exercise was associated with low back pain in teachers. Exercising regularly will keep your core muscles strong and prepare you for whatever students come your way this fall.
Maintain a healthy weight. Do your best to eat healthy and maintain your weight. Gaining weight can increase pressure on your spine, causing back pain and discomfort. Eating a variety of healthy foods will also provide you with the nutrients you need to get through each teaching day with a smile.
Use the Chirp Wheel. Keep the Chirp Wheels under your desk when it’s time for a break to reverse damage from poor posture. Use the 6 inch wheel as a posture corrector when sitting in your chair to avoid back pain from poor posture.
Keep an ergonomic workspace. If you spend most of your time sitting at your desk, make sure your chair, desk, and computer are at the right height for you. You shouldn’t have to look down at your computer and your knees should be in line with your hips or lower with your feet touching the ground.
Use a floor cushion. When seated on the floor, use a cushion for extra comfort. While standing at a white board or in front of the classroom, use a foot cushion for extra support. And be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Reduce stress. Getting back to school means lesson planning, more kids to worry about, all on top of your own personal life. This added stress can bring tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. Make sure to do what you can to relieve stress, such as exercise, confide in a loved one, or take some time for yourself. And remember, the Chirp Wheel can be your personal masseuse when you need it.
See if taller desks are available. If it is right for your classroom, see if you can get some taller places for your students to sit so you don’t have to hunch down at a kid-sized desk when you’re helping out with school work.
Use a high stool. Instead of standing during your whole lecture, invest in a high stool you can rest on while you teach. This will give your back some relief, especially if you have been standing for a long time. Be sure to take breaks whether you’re sitting or standing.
Chiropractic Dubai. (2021). Back pain: a real pain in the classroom for teachers. Retrieved from https://www.chiropracticdubai.com/chiropractic-info/back-pain-a-real-pain-in-the-classroom-for-teachers/
Kebede, A., Abebe, S.M., Woldie, H., & Yenit, M.K. (2019). "Low Back Pain and Associated Factors among Primary School Teachers in Mekele City, North Ethiopia: A Cross-Sectional Study", Occupational Therapy International, vol. 2019, Article ID 3862946, 8 pages, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/3862946
Mohseni Bandpei, M. A., Ehsani, F., Behtash, H., & Ghanipour, M. (2014). Occupational low back pain in primary and high school teachers: prevalence and associated factors. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 37(9), 702–708. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.09.006
Moore, L. (2020, September 4). Avoiding back pain for school teachers. Retrieved from https://www.leamingtontherapycentre.co.uk/avoiding-back-pain-for-school-teachers