Four Physical Therapy Tips for Healthier Students

Clinical Expertise

by Kate DeValerio, PT, DPT, PCS | Aug 24, 2017

Another school year is upon us! As we scurry about during the busy first weeks of school, it’s easy to forget the physical demands on our children during the school year.  Let’s partner together to help reduce bad posture, pain and strain in our little ones.  Here are four tips that can help!

Tip 1: Be sure your child’s backpack fits appropriately. Did you know backpacks typically weigh between 20-40% of a child’s bodyweight? To put that in perspective, for an adult weighing 165 pounds, they would be carrying between 33-66 pounds all day.  Selecting the right backpack and making sure it is worn correctly can really make a difference.

Look for backpacks that have:

  • Two shoulder straps at least two inches wide
  • A frame that distributes weight throughout the pack or one that has a waist belt
  • Wheels.  Although most schools do not allow students to use the wheels in the hallway, your child can use this method to/from the bus stop or car line for a little break.
  • See this article for great tips and tricks from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Tip 2: Follow the 20/20/20 rule when your child is doing his/her homework, especially when done on a tablet or computer. Every 20 minutes, have your child look up at a distance of about 20 feet for at least 20 seconds. This helps provide time for the eyes to rest and reduces eye strain. Eye strain can promote poor posture while completing homework due to gradual need to get closer to the work as the eyes fatigue.

  • Read more about it here.

Tip 3: Provide a homework space that promotes neutral spinal alignment. Children should avoid completing homework in their lap, on the couch, or the floor. Sitting at a desk in a chair can make a huge difference. This simple trick has many benefits. It promotes upright posture and correct body alignment, plus helps to center a child’s eyes while reading homework.

Tip 4: Be sure your child gets appropriate exercise EVERY DAY. Strong muscles and a healthier child are not the only benefits of getting the recommended minimum of 60 minutes per day. Children who get adequate daily exercise also are more able to handle emotional challenges and focus better during sedentary tasks.

  • Read more about exercises in school age children here.

Have a great 2017-2018 School Year!

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