Advice on choosing and fitting a school bag that’s good for your child’s back and posture.
by Kym Siddons
As we head into the start of a new school year, physiotherapist Kym Siddons shares her tips on selecting the correct school bag for your child, with advice to help their back and posture.
Are you getting your kid’s bags packed and ready for the start of the new school year in 2020?
One of the things parents often ask me is if their student’s school bag might be making their posture worse, or causing them strain and pain.
The short answer is ‘YES”. There are a number of ways that bags can contribute to poor posture and strain on children’s bodies.
The good news is there are also a number of things we can do to help minimise this strain and improve their posture.
Firstly, choose a bag that helps them distribute weight more evenly across their back.
A backpack is obviously ideal, and even better is a backpack that has a waist strap. This can keep the weight of the bag closer to their back (especially helpful when they’re running!) and distribute some weight lower around their hips and pelvis, taking some load off their shoulders.
A satchel with an adjustable shoulder strap is the next best choice. The longer strap allows weight of the bag to be distributed across the body on both sides. The strap should be longer rather than shorter, to keep the weight close to the pelvis. When the weight is dangling down around the legs it’s very hard to walk evenly.
Next, talk with your student about how it’s best for them to carry their bag.
It’s all very well to have selected a great looking bag that should, in theory, help their posture and unload their back and shoulders, but the way they carry it on a daily basis is possibly the most important factor.
We’ve all done it – slung our backpack over one shoulder so we end up taking all the weight through one side!
The key to success is their understanding that carrying their bag unevenly makes a BIG difference. Getting into the habit of putting both straps of a backpack on, or slinging a shoulder strap over their head and across their body takes so much strain off their back and shoulders.
The more often they can remember to wear their bag properly the better – little healthy choices all add up to help them feel less strain and improve their posture.
Finally, try to limit their load.
The lighter the bag the better… so if they need to use textbooks for home study, see if you can source some second hand ones to stop them needing to carry them to and from school.
Lighter tablets and laptops help, as does clearing out the junk in the bottom on their bag regularly 😉.
Lots of gentle reminders during the school term and encouragement when you see them doing the right thing will help.
Remember, kids are only human, and the best prompt for making change will happen when they start to feel their symptoms… so if they’re complaining of a sore neck, back or shoulders, that’s your cue to help them problem solve the ‘Why’?
The wrong bag, worn incorrectly and loaded up, can be part of their problem. Other factors could be their device or desk setup, poor strength and flexibility, or simply spending too long sitting. These are worth asking about, and you’re welcome to reach out and ask me any questions.
If their soreness or tightness persists, even at a low level please seek help for your student- there’s often a quick and easy solution!
If you’d like some exercises for your family members to do at their desk to help lessen pain and improve their posture and productivity just click on the link below.
Here’s to a fantastic year ahead for you and your students in 2020!
A Mum of three children and an APA Sports Physiotherapist with over 20 years experience, Kym Siddons is a health professional fiercely committed to empowering people to maximise their wellness and performance in their work, home and study life by educating them about good ergonomics, posture and exercise. You can get in touch with Kym and read more about her work HERE.
For more information and all enquiries please visit the Kym Siddons Physio website.
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
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