Back-to-School Tips from our Physiotherapists’

Back-to-School Tips from our Physiotherapists’

As we begin to settle into the new school year, parents have an important role to play in ensuring their children have a healthy, active, and pain-free time at school. That’s why we’ve asked a few of our physiotherapists to share their top tips for helping kids get ready for back to school.

Children experience increased levels of daily activity, thanks to play, sports, and physical education. With this in mind, it’s helpful for parents to know they can play a role in helping to reduce the likelihood of some of the most common complaints that physiotherapists treat in children.

These include: 

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Knee pain
  • Ankle sprains
  • Sports injuries

Here are some top tips for parents to help keep their children healthy and happy at school:

Choose the right backpack (and wear it correctly)

One of the most common complaints that physiotherapists treat in children is back pain caused by ill-fitting backpacks. In fact, the wrong-sized backpack is far more detrimental to a child’s back health than carrying moderate weight; this is to do with the distribution of load.

However, it is important that children aren’t carrying more weight than their bodies can handle at this age. It is recommended that school bags shouldn’t exceed more than 10% of a child’s body weight – though recent studies have shown that over two-thirds of school-aged kids exceed this amount!

To prevent this, it’s important to choose a backpack that is the right size and fits correctly – don’t buy one that’s too big now, in the hopes that they’ll grow into it later. The backpack should be no wider than your child’s chest and should not hang more than 10cm below their waistline. 

Encourage your child to wear both straps and adjust them so the backpack sits comfortably on their back. Waist and chest straps can also help to transfer some of the load to the hips and pelvis, making the backpack more comfortable to carry. 

Support them with the right shoes

Choosing the right shoes is also important for preventing injuries and promoting good posture. In fact, the average child will wear their school shoes for over 1500 hours per year – that’s the equivalent of almost 9 weeks. 

Encourage your child to wear shoes that fit well and provide adequate support. Avoid shoes with platforms, as these can put unnecessary stress on the feet and ankles. Children’s shoes should also help to reduce excessive rolling movements at the foot and ankle. 

Ideally, look for a shoe with a firm heel counter. Designed to hold the foot in place, this ensures the shoe is actually doing its job in supporting the child’s foot.

Additionally, it’s important to replace worn-out shoes as they can cause postural problems and increase the risk of injuries. Shoes should fit properly too, as shoes too big or too small may cause blisters or sprains. 

Promote regular exercise

Physical activity is important for overall health and well-being, and it can also help prevent injuries. Encourage your child to engage in regular exercise, whether it’s through organised sports, playtime at the park, or simply walking to or from school. 

Activities like swimming or bike riding can also help to develop the core muscles, which in turn can work to prevent back pain and other injuries.

Pay attention to posture

As an everyday habit, the importance of good posture can’t be overstated for preventing back pain and other postural problems. 

Encourage your child to sit upright, slumped could well be causing muscular fatigue but equally being too upright can also create plenty of issues. They should feel as if their shoulders and body balance nicely over their pelvis with their feet flat on the ground and their shoulders relaxed. 

When using a computer or tablet, ensure that the screen is at eye level and that your child is sitting in a chair that supports their back.

For more information on good posture, click here.

In conclusion, throughout the school year, parents can help set their children up for a healthy, active, and pain-free time at school by following these tips. 

Help your child to choose the right backpack and shoes, engage in regular exercise and pay attention to posture. By doing so, you can help prevent the most common complaints that physiotherapists treat in children and promote overall health and well-being.

For more information, or to book an appointment, please contact us at 9078 8434 or or book online through our booking system Jane.

Published March 22, 2023


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