Consider your back in Back-to-School prep

Did the summer holidays fly by for anyone else, or just our household? With my wife being a teacher and my eldest son actively involved in various extracurricular activities, we’ve been immersed in the back-to-school preparations these past few weeks. I wanted to share some practical health tips for other parents and families who are also beginning the season of term routine and schedule-juggling.

Find the right backpack

  • Bags should ideally be no heavier than 10% of the student’s weight when packed.
  • Make sure the bag is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest.
  • Choose a bag with broad, padded shoulder straps and preferably a waist strap. Use both shoulder straps – never sling the bag over one shoulder.
  • The straps should be shortened until the bottom of the bag is just above the student’s waist, and not sitting on their buttocks. At the right level, the bag should lie flat on the student’s back.
  • Don’t overload the bag – use school lockers for storage and plan homework well in advance so books are carried only when they’re needed.
  • Place all heavy items at the base of the bag, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight.

Warm up/down and watch for tumbles

  • Reduce the chances of injury or strain by warming up/down before/after play and sports activities. If you want some useful stretches or exercises let us know. We’re also associated with a great Personal Trainer if you need specialised support.
  • Get your kids checked by their chiropractor after any significant falls or tumbles. We all know that kids will (and should be) kids and have their adventuresome playtime! Generally their activities are harmless. But sometimes small bumps and crashes can put strain on the spinal structures. It’s much easier to correct this at a young age than to reverse years of damage when the spine has shifted into a problematic position (it’s also easier if they’re having regular maintenance care).

Manage nutrition and avoid fatigue

  • School aged children should be getting 9-11 hours of sleep every night. Set a consistent bedtime routine and shut down technology at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Ensure that kids are eating a healthy breakfast (ideally including protein) in the mornings and regular meals throughout the day to maintain consistent energy levels and avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes.
  • Probiotics and magnesium are great for keeping up general immunity and health. Let us know if you want to understand more about them or pick some up in the office.

Use devices thoughtfully

  • Set time limits on recreational device use and take regular breaks with devices required for homework.
  • When using a tablet or laptop, set up a comfortable spot on the floor so your child can lay on their stomach, propped on their elbows while using it. This helps to keep their head and shoulders from hunching over the device which can cause long-term damage to their spine over time. More importantly, this enhances neurological control of postural reflexes which are a core component of spinal stability (regardless of age).

If you want to talk with us about your child’s spinal health, or bring them in with their backpack to have it properly fitted, feel free to book a Complimentary Chat or contact us for more information.

About the Author Dr Edward Roper

Ed has been practicing in Tauranga since 2009, and established Precision Chiropractic in 2012. Prior to this, Ed spent several years in a chiropractic practice in Albany, Auckland.