I hope that during the school holidays, your children have had time to run around and enjoy themselves. Fresh air, muscle building, relaxing, inspiring activities that help your children’s bodies to cope with the gruelling inactivity of being back at school or college.
What are the problems they face when going back to school or college?
- Carrying Books and Equipment
You can help buy buying your child a backpack. This at least will mean that the weight is evenly distributed. However, don’t think that is the answer to the problem of carrying books, sports equipment etc.
If an average 11 year old weighs about 5 – 6 stones and they use a back pack and also walk to school – both of which are good things to do – but then those backpacks weigh 12- 20 lbs – that means they are carrying 15% of their body weight!
Carrying weights is fine for adults whose muscles and bones have fully developed but in young children who are still growing, these weights are just too much and can lead to back pain. This is due to inflammation of growth cartilage or nerve irritation or muscle and joint strain/sprains.
The issue has been raised repeatedly in countries all over the world for more than a decade. In December 1999, doctors in Milan reported in The Lancet that 34.8 % of Italian schoolchildren carried more than 30% of their body weight at least once a week, “exceeding limits proposed for adults.”
How can you help?
Why not suggest to your children that they take a few minutes at the end of the school day to decide what they really needed to take home with them.
Select a backpack that is no bigger than absolutely necessary — the more room in the pack, the more the child is likely to carry. The pack should have wide, padded, adjustable shoulder straps (narrow ones can cause nerve damage), a padded back, and compartments within so that the heaviest items can rest against the child’s back.
A waist strap would be ideal, but I doubt many children would use it. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the bottom of the pack when filled lands no lower than four inches below the waist.
Children should be cautioned never to carry the pack on one shoulder. Decades of carrying nearly everything heavy on one shoulder can cause a scoliosis.
- Sitting badly
Students either lean back in their chairs too much to slump forwards too often. Both mean that to see what they are doing they have to arch their necks. This puts stress on the neck as it joins the body and can lead to pain but also to bad posture if done daily.
Your child is growing all the time and if they assume bad posture daily, the bones will grow to adapt to the position. Muscles shorten – particularly those in front of the shoulders that connect the shoulder joint to the sternum – and the tighter they get, they inhibit the strength of the back muscles at the level of the shoulder blades so it becomes more difficult to be able to keep good posture.
How can you help?
Don’t nag too much – but do get your child a good chair for when they are doing homework.
Buy them a foam roller and encourage them to use it regularly. Come in to see one of us so we can show them exercises that they can do regularly using the roller. The roller encourages the muscles in front of the shoulders to stretch and helps to maintain flexibility in the mid back, without which we develop shoulder problems over the years, neck pain, headaches.
Come in to see us with your children for a check up before they go back to school. A few words of advice and positive things to do may help to prevent years of discomfort.
Call the clinic now for an appointment and have a great new term!