- Tara Albright DPT
Back to School Safety
Schools is about to start and it seems way too early. Good news is, you still have a little time to prepare and give your kids the healthy start back they deserve, and we are here to offer some help. The below tips provide good guidelines for the many things your child will encounter throughout their school year (i.e. proper sitting posture, posture with cell phone usage, and backpack fit). Likewise, these tips will be useful throughout the school year as a reminder if they begin to struggle or report pain in their neck, upper back, etc. With that said, if your child is having pain or struggling with neck or back pain it is a good time to get them into physical therapy prior to the school year getting in full swing and creating further issues.
Sitting posture when working on Computer
Sit with both feet flat on floor and back supported in a chair (scoot all the way back to the back and sit up tall, using the back support to help you). Working surface should allow elbows to be slightly at or below 90 degree bend with shoulders relaxed. Screen should be angled to allow the child to look at the screen while ears are directly over shoulders and chin is tilted slightly down.
If using a tablet avoid lap level use. The tablet should be placed on a working surface with the same set-up as above in mind. If your tablet comes with a stand use it. If you do not have a stand you may consider investing in one to help prevent a pain in the neck for you or your kids. For extended times of use you may want to use a detachable keyboard instead of the screen key board.
Cell Phone usage of texting and browsing
When using a mobile device try to hold the mobile device up in front of you instead of down in your lap. Use one hand to hold the phone and the other hand to do the typing (instead of using both thumbs). This allows for better posture when using the device. Maintain neutral wrist posture and alternate hands when appropriate. Use text short cuts to assist with texting to eliminate more key strokes (most kids are better at this then adults). Finally, discourage your kids from using their mobile devices during distracting situations, such as walking, biking, and driving. Try to lead by example.
Backpack fitting and wear
Encourage children to use both straps when carrying their bag (one on each shoulder). Straps should be slightly padded. Encourage your children to lighten the load they carry, either by going to their locker more frequently during the day, or by minimizing excess things from their bag that they may not need all the time (i.e. text books for other classes, calculators, etc.). The backpack load should be no more than 15% of the child’s bodyweight. The bottom of backpack should stop just below the waistline (no more than 4 inches below the waist line). Backpacks with a waist and chest strap are ideal for transferring the weight appropriately. When looking for a backpack pick one with multiple compartments and encourage children to load the heaviest items closest to their back (or the back of the bag), to allow for the heavy items to be closer to their center of gravity and distribute the weight more evenly. Finally, know the warning signs of a heavy backpack and monitor your children for these signs
Change in posture when putting on the bag
Struggling when taking on or off their backpack
Complaints of pain or tingling when wearing the backpack
Red marks from straps.
We also have an amazing blog we put together a couple years ago with more guidance on correct backpack fit for a more in-depth look
Hopefully, these tips will help to keep you and your youngsters healthy, happy, and feeling good. If you or your child has sustained an injury from posture related issues or, if you have questions concerning proper back pack fitting give us a call today. We would love to help you get back to feeling your best!