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Teachers receive free back screenings, massages

By KBell
May 28, 2011 at 12:28 a.m.

Laura DeLeon conducts a spine examination on Sarah Ramirez at Vickers Elementary on Tuesday. DeLeon moved the strings to line up with the shoulders and hips to show the weight distribution and spine alignment.

Perhaps the only thing more menacing than stepping on a scale would be stepping on two scales.

But the teachers at Vickers Elementary jumped without hesitation, one foot on each. Most were surprised, not by the number staring back at them, but that the digits under each foot were different.

"More people than not carry 10-15 pounds or more than that on one side of their body," said Laura DeLeon, public relations specialist with Lordex Spine Institute and Chiropractic.

The Victoria chiropractic center provided free back screenings to teachers and staff at the elementary school, which included the scale scenario and an apparatus that shows how a person's ears, shoulders and hips measure up with each other.

The teachers also received a five-minute back massage after their screenings.

"It's just our little token, especially at the end of the school year," DeLeon said.

The teachers said they did feel appreciated, and they learned a little something in the process.

"Your spinal cord is attached to every single part of your body," DeLeon said. "You don't realize that maybe the pain in your side is coming from a pinched nerve."

Debra Duvall, a second-grade teacher, said she knows about the perils of back pain but had no idea she was carrying her weight disproportionately.

"When your back is out, it just ruins everything in your life," she said. "I had no idea I was off balance. It's definitely something I'm going to look into."

Her face buried in the massage chair, Duvall relaxed into the massage she said was particularly needed after a day of grading with her head down.

"This really does make you feel better all around. Mentally, too," Duvall said.

DeLeon said teachers are particularly prone to back complications given the nature of their jobs.

"We see the most stress and tension for teachers, especially this time of year," she said.

For the Lordex Spine Institute, coming into schools not only provides a service to the hard-working teachers, but also a chance to spread the word about maintaining a healthy back.

"We can provide education, too, for the teachers, and they can pass that along to other teachers and friends," DeLeon said.

She compared maintaining a healthy back to maintaining healthy teeth and said both need daily care.

"We can get new teeth, liver, kidneys, a heart, but you can't get a new spine," she said.

Duvall said she already does her part to encourage her second-graders to get into the habit of taking care of their backs.

"I don't send textbooks home," she said. "They shouldn't be carrying that much around."



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