Summer holidays are coming to an end, meaning it’s time to get the back to school supplies organised! Your main focus in the next few days may be to tick off all the back to school items from pens, pencils, textbooks, notebooks & much more.
There’s many things to get organised before school comes around, it’s important to not forget about the importance of backpacks. The definition of a backpack is, a large pack that is supported by an external or internal frame and is used especially for carrying supplies. However, the use of a backpack is extremely important to the health of your child!
Backpacks come in all shapes & sizes, and when used properly, they’re incredibly handy carrying the many items to and from school! However, backpacks can strain muscles and joints, and may cause back / spinal pain if they’re too heavy or not used correctly.
It’s important to avoid certain things when choosing a backpack, these are:
❌ Backpacks with tight, narrow straps.
*this can cause issues with your child evenly distributing weight on each shoulder, and can cause the narrow straps to dig in and cause immense pain for your child.
❌ Excessively large & low hanging backpacks.
❌ No padding or back support.
❌ No adjustable straps.
❌ Only one or minimal amount of compartments.
What to look for in a backpack?
✅ Two wide, padded shoulder straps.
✅ A padded & supportive back.
✅ A waist belt: this will help the weight evenly spread across the body and create more support.
✅ Multiple compartments allowing your child to evenly distribute the weight.
✅ Adjustable straps to fit your child perfectly along their torso. It’s important to be able to adjust the backpack as you don’t want it hanging too low (this can cause issues in the future for your child).
✅ In line with your child’s torso, this will assist with the support of the backpack and make sure the backpack correctly fits them!*
*Determine your torso length — the distance from your 7th cervical vertebra (C7) down to the top of your iliac crest along your spine. If you bend your head downward and feel the back of your neck, that bony part on your spine that sticks out a little bit around the base of your neck is where the C7 is. The iliac crest is the top of your hip bone.
Knowing where a backpack should sit on your back will help your child move around while saving them from the neck, shoulder, and back discomfort.
Dr Angela Todd said, an estimated 80% of adults suffer from back pain at least once in their life. Preventing them from this pain starts from when they are young. Improvements in posture has been seen through the correct use of school bags within children. A backpack worn correctly – over two shoulders and tightly secured at the shoulder & waist belts, can reduce incidences of spinal damage.
According to the Chiropractors Association of Australia (CAA), 90% of school children have poor posture when carrying their bags and could experience unwanted spinal stress and damage as a result. Additionally, 75% are not wearing their school backpacks properly which may be exacerbating the problem.
Proper backpack tips:
✅ Always Wear Both Shoulder Straps
✅ Use Backpacks with Waist and Chest Belts.
✅ Remove Backpack when Standing for a Prolonged Period
✅ Ensure Proper Positioning of the Backpack (The ideal position of the backpack is slightly below your shoulders and above your hips. Fitting snugly against the body)
A lot of children tend to wear their backpacks really low. This adds tremendous pressure on the shoulders and lower back. It also creates a wobbly backpack that sways as the child walks, further adding stress to the body)
If your child is currently experiencing discomfort, it’s important to get proper treatment & care that we specialise in at Todd Healthcare.
KIDS GOING BACK TO SCHOOL: INTERVIEW WITH DR. KATI WILLIAMS & DR. SOPHIE TODD
Kati Williams is one of our incredible Chiropractors at our Sale clinic who treats many mothers, children & babies. Dr. Kati also has 3 young children herself, so she has a few tips & tricks up her sleeve to help make the transition of going back to school a little bit easier. With a lot of excitement (and nerves) of going back to school it’s difficult staying on top of every aspect. Kati and Sophie discuss how backpacks can impact children’s spine, body and posture. They discuss the different ways to avoid the common aches and pains that can come with improper use of backpacks. The main points to look out for with backpacks is making sure the backpack isn’t too wide or wider than your child’s chest, however there are a few more tips recommended by Dr Kati Williams:
- Making sure the backpack sits just below shoulder height and just above the hips
- Making sure your child is wearing bother shoulder straps correctly across both shoulders
- Backpack is secured tightly with both straps and is pressed against the spine through the chest & waist belts
- Look at the weight of the backpack, making sure that is not more than 10-15% of your child’s weight. It should be a suitable weight for your child to easily put on and take off the backpack.
Some common complaints and issues that Dr. Kati has come across due to improper use of the backpacks may include:
- Headaches due to anterior head carriage, this is where the neck may have to crane forward to counteract the backpack pulling back
- If the backpack is worn too low or the shoulder straps aren’t tightened sufficiently, it can cause your child to arche the lumbar spine to keep their centre of gravity correct which may cause lower back pain issues
At all the Todd Clinics locations, you can come for a free backpack assessment and spine check. With these checks, the Chiropractor will assess any posture imbalances there may be with your child and will provide helpful tips for not only proper backpack wear, but overall lifestyle advice.
Dr. Kati has a few helpful tips to settling back into a school routine:
- Get a good nights sleep. A helpful tool getting you and your child back into a better sleeping routine after the school holidays is through the Smiling Minds app. It’s a free application that has free short meditations which assists with mindfulness and focus on winding down for the night.
- Cutting back on screen time on the couple of hours prior to bed. Swapping out some screen time for some indoor or outdoor activities can assist with burning off some energy your child may still have, which will assist with winding down at night time.
- Nutritious food choices & plenty of water. Not only is important for your children’s lunchboxes & snacks to be packed with lots of nutrition, but it’s important for the morning to be started off in the exact same way. Having a healthy & nutritious breakfast in the morning will set your child up with the energy and fuel their bodies need for the day.
Dr. Kati Williams and Dr. Sophie Todd further discuss the importance of going back to school and looking at the many lifestyle factors that can impact your child’s health. For more information, please watch the video of the discussion between Dr. Kati Williams & Dr. Sophie Todd that may answer some of the questions and queries you may have.
5 THINGS TO ENSURE A PROPER DESK SET UP FOR YOUR CHILD
Having a desk & chair set up correctly for your child/children is extremely important for their spinal health. It’s important when setting up their work station, to not let them slouch or hunch their backs. Encourage them to maintain a straight posture as much as possible. There are some helpful tips to remember to ensure their properly using their desk:
- 90 , 90, 90 RULE
Hips at 90 degrees, knees at 90 degrees, elbows at 90 degrees
Following this guideline, their spine would be straight and make a 90 degree angle to their thighs, which are resting flat on their seats. Then their knees would be at a right angle to their thighs. Lastly their feet would be resting flat on the floor, making a right angle to their shins.
2. Top of screen at eye level
The computer or laptop screen should be directly in front of you. A good guide is to place the monitor about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. To achieve this, you may need a monitor stand. If the screen is too high or too low, you’ll have to bend your neck, which can be uncomfortable.
3. Have their keyboard & mouse close.
Place your keyboard in front when typing & leave a gap of about 4 to 6 inches (100mm-150mm) at the front of the desk. This will help avoid leaning too close to your laptop or computer and therefore creating a slouch. This will avoid the neck to lean too forward and therefore reduce neck & spine pain.
4. Supportive chair
Humans are not designed to sit for long periods. To counteract this reality, ergonomic chairs for all ages are designed to support neutral sitting positions. These place the least amount of stress on a seated body over long periods. Finding the right desk chair will help to create a productive workstation for your child and will also be beneficial for their overall physical health.
5. Avoid sitting in bed on laptop
This may cause forward head carriage, tight muscles, headaches, pins and needles in arms/legs etc. It’s important for your child’s productivity and physical health to have a proper work station where their feet can be placed on the ground and their laptop or computer is placed correctly to avoid any aches & pains.
It’s important to reassess the desk setup prior to getting back to school, as your child as they grow and develop, this ensures proper posture for your child. We recommend taking a photo of your child at their desk both side-on and from behind to show your Chiropractor at your next appointment, this will help them give more specific lifestyle advice.
HEALTHY LUNCH BOX IDEAS FOR KIDS!
We know it can be difficult to come up with healthy lunch & snack ideas for the kids’ lunchboxes, so we’ve got a few healthy recipes & snacks up our sleeves to give you!
Packing school lunches can become rather tedious and struggle to be creative & healthy every day. Kids love variety and don’t like to be bored, so it’s good to mix it up with the lunch & snack ideas. Below are some tips for packing healthy lunchbox for kids/
1. Make it easy: the key is to provide food that’s easy for them to eat and to provide it in lunch boxes that are easy for kids to open. For example, pre peel any fruit that you may pack as it may be hard for them to do it themselves.
2. Use leftovers: make a little extra for dinner, using the leftovers as a lunch option.
3. Fruit & veggies: Include a mix of fruit and vegetables in lunch boxes to boost nutrition and make sure the kids are getting their essential vitamins and minerals. Add in some vegetable sticks with avocado or hummus for an element of crunch.
4. A healthy balance: school lunches should have a balance of all of the food groups. When packing lunch use the guide below to help ensure your child is enjoying a healthy and balanced school lunch.
5. Keep it allergy friendly: Food based allergies including peanuts, dairy, gluten, egg etc can be life-threatening. Many schools have food policies to reduce the risk of accidental exposure. We as parents play an important role by following these policies and packing food products that are safe. Keep up to date with your schools policy.
6. Prep ahead: Chop carrot sticks or dice fruit while you are prepping dinner, this will save you time!
Before you do your weekly shop, create a plan of what you want to pack in the lunchbox for the week and add the items to your grocery list. To have all the food on hand will ensure that the kids have a healthy lunch for each day at school.