According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 there were 3.79 million students enrolled in schools across the country. Many of these students carry their backpacks or school bags overloaded or poorly fitted, resulting in a variety of injuries including neck pain, muscle spasms, tingling hands, headaches and lower back pain.
As parents, there are a number of important issues you need to know in order to prevent backpack related injuries and promote spinal health in your kids. When choosing a new backpack, it’s recommended you select ergonomically designed features that enhance safety and comfort. Importantly, a number of Australian and International health bodies recommend that the weight of a child’s backpack should not exceed 10 to 12 percent of their own body weight.
Choosing the Backpack: Here are six tips on choosing the best pack for your child-
Once you have taken the proper steps in choosing, packing and wearing the school backpack, please continue to monitor your child. It is extremely important to encourage your child or teenager to tell you about any pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack. If necessary, talk to your child and their teachers to ensure that what your child is being carried back and forth to school is really required each day.
We know that posture and spinal health is impacted by a combination of factors including good muscle control, strength and flexibility. So, get your child moving with swimming, dance, martial arts, gymnastics, football, netball, soccer or any other organized activity. Becoming involved with sporting activities helps develop muscle tone as well as self-confidence, which can also influence posture.
I hope this helps you in your important role of caring for your child or teenager’s spine during their school years. If you have any further questions or would like any further advice you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I use mobile devices? Of course I do. As a posture professional however, I try to be deliberate about my posture while I use them, because I know full well the consequences if I don’t. I’m trained to look out for this while I text, check emails or Facebook, or even play games, but your children aren’t. Anyone using a mobile device for long hours is more than likely allowing their body alignment to suffer in a big way.
How many hours do our children and teenagers spend on these devices? I remember a time where kids would go to an arcade and stand up to play games. Then we shifted to home systems where we would sit or lay for a few hours and then eventually go outside to play. As time moved on, games have become much more involved and addictive. Now, games have also become much more mobile and this is not necessarily a good thing. On top of all this, nearly everything else can be accessed on a mobile device as well, from social media, to messaging and so much more. There is now more reason than ever to spend time staring at a small, hand held screen.
From the eyes of a posture specialist, I notice how young people look while they’re playing. Head hung over, neck flexed, shoulders slouched, focused solely on the game or screen and not much else. The obvious consequence that children are setting themselves up for posture related musculoskeletal problems and they don’t even know it, really bothers me!
In only a few years, many of the children of this generation are going to have serious postural abnormalities. The long hours spent on mobile devices while in poor alignment will be a major factor that caused this. Can you imagine a child incurring forward head posture, “text neck”, or thoracic kyphosis before their 20s? It’s becoming a reality. These are issues that adults battle in their later years- no child should have to worry about visiting a doctor or therapist because of persistent neck pain or headaches. I am seeing far too much of this already in our physiotherapy clinics, and have even experienced it at home with my own kids. Mine are just fortunate they have parents that can educate them on what’s going on and make them more aware of their posture and the role it plays in their aches and pains.
So, what can you do?
Understand that what we’re talking about here is serious, and it extends into all excessive use of mobile devices while in poor alignment. We can start impacting change by actively discussing it with family, friends and colleagues. Particularly, if you or someone you know has or works with children, really open this discussion.
Here are some points you can bring up with them and discuss now:
Whether it’s at home, in the car, or at school, our children need us to help them with this. It’s the responsibility of all of us to look out for their posture before it turns into a serious problem. By becoming more aware and openly discussing these points within your family and social circles, we bring more attention to it and even better, brainstorm some simple ideas to help make a positive change. Believe me, a little can go a long way here, and we really can significantly influence the path of our children’s health.
This is an issue I am very passionate about (in case you hadn’t noticed!) and I intend to make a difference to as much of our community as I can.
Please browse the rest of our site here at Perth Posture Centre to learn a little more about these issues. If you have any questions at all, or if you would like me to come and do a talk, you can contact me directly at email@example.com or call the clinic on 08 9446 7017.
I hope this helps you learn more and begin making some positive changes, for you, and for those you care about.