Getting your kid school and life ready
Updated: Sep 6
School is back but it is not too late to ensure your child is set up appropriately to limit pain and prevent injuries. Appropriately fitted school bags, school shoes and desks will help improve your child's posture and set up a foundation of good habits and prevent injuries.
Back pain is becoming more and more common in children, which is concerning. One of the causes is a heavily loaded backpack. Ensuring your child has the appropriate bag is the first step and then having is adjusted to fit them.
- a lightweight bag
- padded, wide straps to help distribute the load - a waist belt can help spread the load to the hips
- multiple compartments
To adjust the bag:
- the centre of the mass of the bag needs to be waist height
- heavy items should be packed close to the body
- straps can be tightened so the bag sits against the body and not sagging away
- wear the bag over both shoulders.
The Australia Physiotherapy Association Guidelines suggest that children's backpacks should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight. Unfortunately, research has shown that over 60% of high school students carry more than this. Over 20% of children develop back pain that lasts more than six months. We need to prevent back pain in young people. A properly fitted backpack with the appropriate weight is a start.
SCHOOL SHOES Kids are in school shoes for an average of 30 hours per week. They run, they jump, they get a log of wear out of these shoes. So, they need to be appropriately fitted. A shoe that alows for efficient foot movement whilst also providing enough support is important. It might be tempting to buy cheap alternatives or a couple of sizes too big whilst your child's foot is growing, however this may lead to foot problems and pain.
The shoe needs:
a firm heel counter. This is the firmness at the back of the shoe that supports the ankle
to have good torsional stability. Minimal movement when you twist the base of the shoe
to bends where it is supposed to. Squeeze both ends of the shoe together, it should bend where the toes would bent not in the middle of the foot
fit correctly. Too much or too little space will affect the comfort and could cause blisters or pressure areas.
Having a shoe that fits your child's foot is really important. The right school shoe, maintained in the right condition and changed over at the right time is key.
9 out of 10 young Australians are sitting too much. 4 out of 5 primary school aged kids do not meet the minimum requirement of physical activity per day. Yet physically active children are better equipped for school; they have better memory and thinking skills, are more social and less susceptible to anxiety and depression.
Creating habits that can be sustained throughout the year can still start now. An easy way to start increasing their exercise it to walk or ride to school. Having a properly fitted backpack and shoes will certainly make this more attraction.
Set an example and be active yourself. Active parents produce active kids. Research shoes that parents are the primary influence as to whether kids are active or not. Being an active parent helps encourage your kid to enjoy being physically active and be involved in organised sport. If there is something you feel that is holding you or you child back, then see your physiotherapist.
POSTURE and SITTING
Good postural habits start in childhood. Creating an environment that encourages good posture can help your child prevent unnecessary stress on their muscles, joints and ligaments. It is just as important for your kids to have a good set up, as you would have in your home and workplace.
Good posture can:
improve energy levels
improve self esteem
reduce the risk of back and neck pain
reduce the risk of health complications
Chair: Having a chair at a height where your child's feet can touch the ground. Back support all the way to their upper back will help set them up from a sitting perspective.
Desk: The height is so important. Too high and they will be lifting their arms up for extended periods, too low and they will hunch over.
Laptops: Kids are more and more using laptops for their homework. A great idea is to have a separate keyboard so that you can raise the screen to avoid long periods looking down at the laptop screen which can put stress on their back and neck.
There are so many things you can adjust to help your child have good sitting posture at home.
School is such a fun time. Learning new things every day, spending time with friends and becoming a young person. It is exciting. Make it comfortable too and prevent a future of injuries and health problems. If you need help or guidance reach out to your health professionals. We are located at 238 Coventry Street, South Melbourne and provide care to all ages.