Our 3 Step Guide to a Healthy School Year

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1.  The Right Backpack

“This bag is as heavy as a ton of bricks!” Have you ever thought or said this about your child’s backpack? Chances are your child is carrying too heavy a load!

A backpack that is too heavy, isn’t worn properly or too big can cause some serious pain! Young backs, shoulders and necks can be extremely strained by wearing a backpack incorrectly. Aside from terrible pain, your child can also suffer long term injuries and postural issues from wearing the wrong backpack. There are so many backpacks to choose from and most of them look the same, so what is the right backpack?

When choosing a backpack ensure that the backpack is suitable for the size of your child. Thicker shoulder straps are better for your child as they are less likely to dig into the shoulders. Some schools offer backpacks on wheels; this is a great option which means your child can avoid back, neck and shoulder injuries. It is a particularly good option if they have lots of books and/or a laptop to bring home every day. If this is not an option, the Australian Physiotherapy Association recommends the Spartan Physiopak which minimizes the risks that children are exposed to by carrying heavy loads.

If your child is using their backpack from last year or the school has its own backpack, here are some simple points on ensuring your child wears their backpack correctly:

Weight

The Australian Physiotherapy Association recommends that your child’s backpack should not be more than 10% of their body weight.

Height

The top of your child’s backpack should not sit higher than their shoulders and the bottom of the backpack should not go lower than the small of the back. Heavier items, such as a laptop, should be placed towards the back of the bag, close to the spine.  

Straps

Shoulder straps should not be worn loosely, and it is important that your child wears both straps. Encourage your child to use waist and chest straps if their backpack has these, in order to take some of the load off the shoulders and back.

Lastly, ensure your child only carry’s the necessary books and materials that they need for that day, to avoid unnecessary weight.

 

 

2.  A Shoe that fits

Running around at recess and lunch as well as the multitude of cocurricular activities that children do these days makes having the right shoes essential for injury prevention.

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Too Big

If your child’s shoes are too big they risk ankle, knee and joint pain. Your child’s heel should not be slipping; this is one of the biggest indicators of a shoe that is too big.

Too Small

If your child’s shoe is too small they will often change the way they walk. This in turn can cause discomfort and injury to their feet and legs. Long term this could affect their posture. It can also result in horrible ingrown toenails and bunions!

Just Right

The correct shoe size has approximately a thumb width space between the top of the shoe and the big toe. The shoe should allow for some minor movement with enough support, cushioning and comfort.

3.  Study Spaces

Studying for long periods, sitting at a desk and looking at electronic screens can result in a rounded posture as well as stiff and tight neck and shoulders. The ergonomic set up of your child’s study space is an important factor in reducing the risk of postural related injuries and headaches as well as improving effective study and concentration. To find out more about ergonomic set up, you can read our detailed blog post on setting up your computer and desk station. The most important factors are:

  • Sitting correctly on a chair
  • The keyboard and mouse are in the right places
  • If a screen is used, that the distance, height and angle are correct
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Most importantly, it is essential that you encourage your child to get up and move around. Your child should take a break at least once an hour and stretch or play outside. Reminding them to have a break will really help and we are pretty sure they will be more than willing to take a break from homework!

 

For more information call us on 6110 3331 or book an appointment online so we can help you prepare for a healthy school year.

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