It’s that ‘back to school’ time of year again. As the days shorten, the mornings grow cool and damp, and the summer tan fades, thoughts turn to the new school year. Whether your child is returning to their familiar class or starting a new school, you may well need to buy new uniform, shoes and equipment. Here are a few things to consider that will help keep your schoolchild healthy and pain-free as they start the new term.
The best bag is one that distributes weight evenly across the shoulders and through the spine.
Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps and encourage your child to use them both rather than slinging their bag over one shoulder.
Teach your child how to load their bag, with heavier items at the base of the bag and as close to the back as possible, and lighter items towards the top or outer edges. This arrangement reduces strain on the back.
If the school provides lockers, encourage your child to use them rather than carrying all their books. It can take a bit of practice to plan effectively – talk about ways to help, such as making a note of books they need to collect when they write down their homework.
Most children will regularly use a computer for work. Ensure they have a desk space with a chair that’s the right height. Elbows should be at right-angles when forearms are resting on the desk, with no hunching of the shoulders.
The screen should be directly in front and positioned so the top of the screen is at eye level. This will help avoid common musculoskeletal problems such as neck and back strain.
Think about your schoolchild’s eye health. Use the 20-20-20 rule, where students take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. This exercises the tiny muscles that focus the eye and helps prevent eye strain.
If your child wears glasses, ensure their prescription is up-to-date so they don’t sit awkwardly to peer at the screen.
School shoes for healthy feet
Comfort and support are top of the list when it comes to choosing school shoes and sports footwear.
Keep your schoolchild’s feet healthy by ensuring their shoes have enough room for the natural splay of the toes during gait. Allow for a thumb’s width of space between your child’s toes and the end of the shoe. Squashed toes can lead to ingrown toenails.
Look for shoes with a supportive arch. This is especially important if your child has flat feet (pes planus), as this can alter the way force is transmitted through the knee and hip, causing problems further up the chain.
Good support and cushioning can help prevent foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinosis, especially in very active youngsters.
Consider the materials the shoe is made from. Materials that provide breathability, such as leather, suede, canvas or mesh, can prevent unpleasant odours and fungal infections.
If your child complains of foot pain, it’s best to nip the problem in the bud. Seek advice from a qualified podiatrist.
Health for your schoolchild
Here at Woodside Clinic, we have plenty of advice on keeping your schoolchild healthy. Our team includes qualified osteopaths, physiotherapists and podiatrists who regularly help children with many kinds of pain and problems.