September’s here and there's one main thing on most people's minds: back-to-school! The summer holidays seem to pass by so quickly, but for many it now means getting back into regular routines for both kids and parents alike. Routines are important for all of us, to help manage time, money, relationships, sleep cycles, eating habits, exercise and our health.
We often bundle the kids off to school in the same manner as we bundle ourselves off to work: rushed, tired, and laden with bags, then expected to sit and concentrate for 8 hours in uncomfortable chairs. Read these few tips to help with your child's ergonomics, to ensure and happy & healthy return to school. Don't forget, they can suffer from back pain too...but can't make sense of it the way we do!
Choosing a backpack:
- choose lightweight material & discourage clipping on toys to reduce the overall weight
- make sure the shoulder straps are thickly padded
- a backpack with multiple compartments helps distribute the weight
- a backpack with a waist-strap can help take the load off the shoulders/back
How to wear the backpack:
- adjust the backpack so it sits no more than 4" below their waistline. you don't want the pack hanging too far down their back & hanging past their bottom. the bottom of the bag should be sitting in the curve of their lower back
- really encourage your kids to wear the backpack on both shoulders, to avoid unnecessary strain, as using it on one shoulder only can cause curvatures of the spine and back strain
- load the heaviest items first, so they are closest to the spine and not creating a top-heavy scenario
- cut down on what's being carried each day. only take what's really necessary and leave the rest at home or in their locker (this goes you too mum & dad!)
- encourage your kids to leave heavy hard-back books at school, if they're able to finish up their assignment at school
- do a weekly "clear-out" of your child's bag, to get rid of all the miscellaneous bits they pick up & stash
- weigh the backpack regularly to ensure its within the safety weight range (15% of your child's body weight)
- if they carry sports kit/equipment, have them carry it in both hands to distribute the load
- well-fitting, supportive shoes are imperative to your child's development. choose soft pliable shoes, with enough room in the toes to wiggle. and make sure you measure their feet EVERY time you buy shoes, as they are constantly growing
- encourage some form of exercise after school so that your child doesn't move from sitting-to-sitting
- AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, encourage your child to talk to you about any aches or pains they may be experiencing. if they are suffering from any issues, get an osteopathic examination to ensure there's nothing more serious going on.