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School, books and backpacks

By Lee Ajzenman, Physiotherapist and Lauren Charlton, Physiotherapist

Have you watched your kids studying at home – are their heads down, shoulders rolled forward or backs slumped? And what about the heavy backpacks they lug to and from school? Maybe we need some sympathy for their complaints of having a sore back or feeling tired. And kids and teenagers, if you are reading … listen up! You don’t need to have a sore back or feel so tired!

Some healthy tips for children and teenagers (and even for the adults!)

Homework station

It is so important to ensure your posture is supported, feet are flat on the ground and there is no excessive bending in your back/neck/wrists. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes of study. This may you need keyboard supports/desktop PCs/pillows or a foot stool.

Back packs

Minimise weight where possible, pack heavier items closest to the back and always ensure both straps are worn over each shoulder—secured firmly to the back. Avoid a ‘forward head posture’ meaning the bag should sit snugly to your back and you should be able to stand upright with your head in line with your body.

Take study breaks

Gentle seated stretches or even short bouts of standing should be done to prevent sitting in the same position for too long. Don’t sit in one fixed position for more than 30 minutes. So do a seated stretch or stand up briefly. This is important for at home and at school.

Family challenge

Set a goal within the family, such as walk a lap around the block before dinner every night or do one minute of star jumps every morning to warm up for the day. It will set a good example and habits for life, as well as have immediate effects like increased energy, better sleep, and improved wellbeing.

Electronic devices

Try to avoid using phones, computers, tablets or TV at least 1-2 hours before bed… and especially the use of social media!

Get involved

Take part in school sport or a team sport regularly.

Foam rolling and ball massage

Many people have a foam roller or a massage ball at home. These are safe for children and teenagers as long as they are used correctly. Ensure they are not rolling the ball or roller over a joint/bony parts and that they are gently rolling a muscle and engaging their core. Those with reduced ‘postural awareness’ (poor ability to know where their body is in space) or hyper-mobility may need a physiotherapy assessment to educate about safe use.

Seek guidance if you are not sure

Your family GP or Physiotherapist will be able to assist in posture assessments and management of any pain your child might be having.


Last updated: February 17, 2021 at: 2:49 pm