June 24, 2021

Bench-top gymnastics after school to get you going again

Whether they have to sit at wheelchairs or use classic single-seaters, this will be a different and much more immobile school year for Italian students. Whatever the position in the classroom, in fact, a consequence of the new rules to contain infections from Covid-19 seems clear to everyone: children and teenagers will move less, a little because they will have to sit even longer than usual, a little ‘because even in the hours of physical education it will not be possible to practice many activities (no team sports like volleyball, for example).

The risks of sedentary lifestyle

This is why ISICO (Italian Spinal Column Scientific Institute) in Milan recalled the need to give more space to bench gymnastics, the so-called school gym, to prevent the coming months from being studded with headaches and back, neck and shoulder pain. , the most common symptoms in the case of prolonged sitting immobility. After the lockdown we recorded an increase in cases, even in children, says Alessandra Negrini, ISICO physiotherapist. Sedentarity worsens the quality of life and back pain today begins to be common as early as 12-13 years: it is essential to get more students and even teachers to move, all the movement that cannot be done during the hours in the classroom must be recovered later, with more sports or free play in the afternoon.

Wrong and fixed positions

The trap remains fixed in the same position for too long, as Andrea Zonta, ISICO physiatrist specifies: Our body is not made to stay still, even at night we change position: the damage in fact derives not so much from the single wrong posture, but from the fact that is maintained over time. The problem is relevant in children and young people because they have a higher pain threshold, so they start complaining when they are well above a stress level with negative repercussions; moreover, they are growing organisms, in which the bone and muscle structures can be “modeled” and wrong postures can more easily modulate development in an unfavorable direction.


Teenagers risk even more than children, because they tend to move even less in their free time. Distance learning could also make things worse, because concentrating in front of a computer you end up sitting still almost without realizing it for one, two, three hours. The very young have to move as much as possible, in and out of school, doing sports regularly and taking advantage of every opportunity to walk, cycle and so on. Changing your lifestyle solves even minor ailments in the neck and back and can work even more than physiotherapy and other interventions, concludes Zonta

Come sit at the counter

The first rule, at the counter and at home? Sit correctly: no special ergonomic chairs are needed, which on the contrary must be used well so as not to be counterproductive (they constrain the position more and therefore push you to perch in an often incorrect way), just put your butt at the bottom of the seat and lean your back against backrest as explained by ISICO physiatrist Andrea Zonta: The boys sit on the edge and then lie down with their heads forward and off axis, but in this way the natural lumbar curvature is not maintained and the head and neck muscles are stressed too much, overloading the mechanics of the spine and favoring the appearance of pain.

The recommended exercises

In addition to sitting well, perhaps getting lumbar support to maintain the right curvature of the back, it will also be necessary to take frequent breaks for small exercises school gym: they can be found on the ISICO website, as added by the physiotherapist Alessandra Negrini It would be useful for the students but also for the teachers, who are also forced to sit more motionless at the chair than in the past. Just dedicate often (every half hour or at most every hour, ed) a few minutes of movements to be done sitting or standing next to the bench: stretches of the arms, bending of the head towards the shoulders or side of the bust, pushes of the elbows backwards, small hops in place. The hours of physical education, having to keep the distance, could be used to do stretching and muscle strengthening exercises, but also to give basic postural indications.

October 18, 2020 (change October 18, 2020 | 19:39)


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