Self-Care Tips For Back-To-School!

It’s almost time for students to return to the classroom! Here are a few self-care tips to prepare for the big day. 

Safe Backpack Use

1.       Backpacks should have wide, padded straps that don’t dig into the shoulders. Note: Straps shouldn’t be wider than the shoulders.
2.       The back panel of the backpack should be well padded to prevent books or other hard items from digging into the back.
3.       Backpacks should be carried using both straps to prevent strain from leaning to one side (I know, the one-shoulder carry is “cool”, but not having back pain is way cooler!).
4.       A backpack with a waist belt helps distribute weight more evenly (also way cool!).
5.       Backpack straps should be tightened for a close body fit.
6.       Backpacks shouldn’t weigh more than 10-20% of the carrier’s body weight.

Stress-Reducing Stretches And Breathing Exercises

As a student or the parent or guardian of a student, you face a lot of responsibility. Set aside 5-10 minutes each day to practice stress-reducing stretches and breathing exercises. This can help you think more clearly and work more efficiently!

Here are 5 great stretches to get you started (you can do all or some of these depending on your day):

1.       Upper Trap Stretch
·         Place one hand behind your back.
·         Lean your head to the opposite side.
·         Pull the shoulder (of the arm that is behind your back) back and down.
·         Add light pressure with your hand on your head to increase the stretch as needed.







Hold 30 sec 3X on each side.

2.       Doorway Pectoral Stretch
·         Standing in front of a doorway, place both arms out to the side and bend the elbows about 90 degrees.
·         Place your forearms on a door frame.
·         Take one step into the doorway so that you feel the stretch in the front of the shoulders/arms.







Hold 30 sec 3X.

3.       Hamstring Stretch
·         Place your foot on a step and pull the toes towards you.
·         Lean forward until you feel a stretch behind your leg.
·         Hold onto a chair if you feel off balance.








Hold 30 sec 3X on each side.

4.       Hip Flexor Stretch
·         Place one leg in front and the other behind and bend the front knee.
·         Keep your back straight and tuck your butt in until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip on the leg that is behind.
·         Feel free to bring up the heel of the back leg if you have trouble feeling the stretch.








Hold 30 sec 3X on each side.

5.       Figure 4 Stretch
·         In sitting and keeping your back straight, cross your ankle over your thigh.
·         Lean slightly forward until you feel a stretch in your buttock and/or your inner thigh of the bent leg.
·         You can apply some light downward pressure to the thigh of your bent leg to increase the stretch.







Hold 30 sec 3X on each side.

6.       Deep Breathing With Arms
·         Bring your arms up over your head as you take a deep inhale.
·         Bring your arms back down on your exhale.







Repeat 5X.

All the above stretches should feel good, and you should be able to perform them in a relaxed way without tightening your muscles. If issues develop (back pain, neck pain, or just pain in general), talk to your healthcare provider about seeing a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or physical therapist assistant for help.

That’s it, now enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

By Jannick Vielleuse, PT, MSPT, CCTT