Fit for the future

  • Try to get involved in a fun sport or activity you enjoy.  Exercise promotes strong healthy bones and muscles which are needed to maintain a healthy back.
  •  Young people should be physically active for at least one-hour every day. This can be broken into smaller sessions of physical activity throughout the day.
  • Remember your 5-a-day! Healthy eating is important, as  not eating the right foods and being overweight places greater stress and strain on the joints of the back, hips and knees.

If you have back pain 

  • Keep Moving! Gentle exercise and stretches as advised by a physiotherapist will help to reduce pain and prevent reoccurrence.
  • A hot water bottle or ice pack may help to give relief
  • Pain relief recommended by your GP or pharmacist can help in the short term. Do not exceed the stated dose. 

This leaflet is aimed at adolescents. If a younger child experiences backache you are advised to consult a GP as soon as possible.

Back Care For Young People

•       Children, like adults can suffer from back pain

•       The spine is designed to perform many functions

•       It has to be flexible to allow us to bend and twist and  also strong so we can walk, run, carry and lift

•       Not all backs are the same shape, but they are  normally curved in a gentle S–shape. This S-shape  needs to be maintained.            

•       The muscles surrounding our spine are very  important

•       There are 3 layers of back and tummy muscles

•       The deep muscles are often called the “core”  muscles. They help to keep our spine strong and  stable. When these muscles are weak, our spines  are at more at risk of injury and pain.


  • Good posture means trying to maintain the natural S shaped curve of your spine.
  • A good way to achieve this is to imagine a helium balloon on a piece of string attached to the top of your head.  Imagine the balloon pulling your body gently into an upright  posture.  
  • Sit upright in your chair. Place your hands on your hips.  

Imagine that your pelvis is a bucket full or water. If you tip  your bucket forwards, water will trickle out the front. If you  tip your bucket backwards, water will trickle out the back. Try to keep your bucket exactly level so that water would  not trickle out.  

Homework and using a computer

•     Sit on a supportive chair

•     Feet on the ground, hips slightly higher than knees.

•     The top of the computer screen should be at eye level

•     The keyboard or laptop should be at elbow height 

•     Keep the mouse close to the body,    keep your shoulders relaxed

•     Remember to take regular short breaks away from the computer / desk e.g. 5 mins in every 30 mins of constant computer use

Minimise time spent sitting down   

Tablet / phone and games console use

•       Soft furniture, such as a sofa, moulds to the body but offers little support to maintain a good posture. Change position regularly and take regular breaks from your device.

•       If your arms are too low when using a tablet or phone it forces you to bend your neck further to see the screen. Put a cushion or two on your lap to support your arms and keep the device in a more elevated position, to help prevent neck pain. 

•       Some games require lots of repetitive movements, such as serving a virtual tennis ball with the arm or rapid  shooting with the thumb. In general, it is better to change activities regularly and use different parts / actions of the body.


Choose a backpack with padded adjustable shoulder straps

  • Wear your bag over both shoulders
  • Buy the correct size schoolbag
  • No larger than your back!
  • Only carry what you need for that day in your schoolbag. If you are lucky enough to have a locker at school…use it!
  • Pack your bag correctly, putting the heavy objects in first and on the inside, so they are close to your spine. This will prevent your back excessively arching.

Many thanks to the Paediatric Physiotherapy team at University Hospitals Dorset for developing these resources

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