The holidays are over, so it’s time to get back into the swing of the school year! Whether you’re dealing with a first-grader or a teenager who’s in their last year of senior schooling, maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is the key to a happy, well-adjusted child. Here are some tips on maintaining back-to-school fitness and health.
THE RIGHT BACKPACK
A properly fitting backpack can protect your child from injury, and neck, back and shoulder pain. According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, the best school backpacks should:
Weigh no more than 10% of their body weight.
Be the appropriate size – no wider than your child’s shoulders and not extend higher than their shoulders when they’re sitting.
Have wide shoulder straps that can be tightened so the pack fits firmly and snugly on their back.
Have comfortable shoulder, chest and weight straps to help with their posture and distribute weight to their hips and pelvis.
Include padded back support and multiple compartments to help distribute the weight throughout the pack.
Be worn with both straps over their shoulders to avoid them leaning to one side.
Not be overloaded and be packed with the heaviest items closest to their spine.
Well-fitted school and sports shoes are also essential because if they don’t fit well, they may contribute to injury. The best school shoes should:
Be of a reasonable quality as cheaper shoes often have less support and cushioning.
Have adequate cushioning for shock absorption to project the joints – the sole should be firm and slightly raised with the main flex point at the ball of their foot.
Have at least half a thumb width between their longest toes and the end of their shoes.
Be the right length and width.
Sports shoes like football boots should not be too big as your child’s foot needs to contact the ball well while kicking.
We recommend ASICS shoes, particularly if your child is doing lots of running around at recess and lunch. Their range of school shoes can be found here.
SMART AND SAFE EXERCISE
Whether your kids enjoy keeping active on their own or are involved in a competitive sporting team, they need a balance between learning, recreation and rest. According to Sport Australia, they should:
Understand the importance of good nutritional habits and physical health.
Minimize the time children are sedentary every day, including limiting their use of electronic media.
Understand the importance of rest, recovery and not over-training.
Try to engage in team sporting activities, which helps with strength, coordination and social and emotional health.
In terms of exercise for children aged between five and 12, the Australian Government recommends they:
Spend at least 60 minutes a day throughout the day exercising moderately to vigorously.
Undertake muscle and bone strengthening exercise three times a week, which can include simple weight-bearing exercises like squatting, skipping and jumping.
In terms of exercise for teenagers aged between 13 and 17, the Australian Government recommends they:
Accumulate more than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
Engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone on at least three days per week.
Make sure children have regular breaks from sitting, particularly during exam times, when study becomes more intense
At home, use a desk with a good ergonomic office chair. Sit - stand desks are great
Consider connecting your laptop to an external monitor so its at the right height
Don't spend much time using your laptop sitting on the bed or couch
Remember that children get niggles, aches and pains as well. It is important to get those niggles addressed early before poor habits form and chronic pain becomes a problem.
Our experienced physios will help you and your child navigate their pain and help get them back to the activities that they love.