I doubt your first, second or third thought in regards to your kids heading back to school is about their musculoskeletal health. You’re probably busy thinking about school books, what’s going to go into their lunch box and hoping they like their new teacher just to name a few. Today I want to take you through a few things perhaps you haven’t thought about, why they’re important and how to fix them.
A new year often means cramming more books into an old bag that your child may have outgrown. Make sure their bag still fits them properly and adjust it accordingly or purchase a new one if needed. This is important as a poorly adjusted bag can cause back, shoulder and neck problems. Teach them to pack all the heavy stuff such as books close to the back of the bag (close to their body) and the lighter stuff towards the front. Even if their books are heavy it requires less work this way and as long as their bag is set up properly (commonly I see the straps too long or uneven for example) it should help a lot.
Some exercises they could do when the get home to combat carrying a heavy bag are a bridge exercise to help keep their back strong, a plank to help keep their core strong and a pec stretch to combat rounded shoulders.
Granted you’ve probably already thought of school shoes for the year. You’ve probably made sure they fit, they cover the school dress code and that they are made of a durable material so you’re not buying new ones in a few months time. Something you may not have done is check if your child’s foot is rolling in or out. This is important to check as feet and ankle misalignment can effect anywhere from the feet up especially knees and low backs. Sometimes they look okay just standing but the role occurs while they walk. Don’t stress if they are rolling you don’t necessarily need to go buy new shoes or expensive orthotics, a few simple exercises can often help; if you’re unsure though absolutely bring them in and we can assess the situation.
While brushing teeth morning and night, balance on the pads of balls of toes on both feet (the heel should only be lifted 1-2cms off the floor). If both feet is easy try single leg. They can do L in the morning and R in the evening. If single leg is also too easy, even without holding on to anything they need a progression that is a little trickier. Leave the toothbrush behind for this one and line your child up with about a 2-4 metre runway preferable with a mirror in front to check their alignment. Raise onto pads of balls of toes with the heels lifted just 1-2 cms then walk towards the mirror (forwards) and away from the mirror (backwards) making sure the ankles are aligned (i.e not rolling in or out). Now do the same thing but this time walking on your heels with your toes lifted. Now carefully try the outsides of your feet and then the insides. Start with 1 set and build up to 4 sets over time. This can be a tricky exercise so if you want our help please book your child in for an appointment.
Class room set up
Not every parent will get a sneak peak of their child’s class room chair and table, but if you can, it’s worth doing, furthermore if you get a month into the term and they start complaining of headaches, neck pain, back pain and so on; I’d call their school and insist on having a look! Things to watch out for include dangling legs (chairs too high); slouched over desk (table too low or could be your child’s postural awareness needs work); knees bent beyond 90 degrees (chair too small or low to ground); shoulders up around the ears (possibly desk too high or your child needs to learn to relax the shoulders). These are the most common or it could be a combination. If you’re unsure take a snap and bring it in to your next session and we can see if we can figure it out. Schools can’t always accommodate the perfect set up for each child, obviously, but it might be a case of finding a child to swap with who is better suited to that set up or bringing in a foot stool, chair cushion and so on. There’s almost always a solution as long as your child is not afraid to be different which can be the case and can therefore be a bit trickier to fix however a few exercises might do the trick instead.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the read today. The other thing outside of school which is worth a thought is computer and ipad use. I’m all for technology but we get a lot of kids in with neck, elbow and thumb pain from too much ipad, iphone and laptop use, just something to keep in mind. Here at Waverley Myotherapy Clinic we have specific appointments for kids that are shorter in duration as their little bodies don’t need quite as long as an adult. Book online here if you’re interested or if you have a question please email [email protected]