Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 08-08-2014
For many of us, getting our kids ready for the school year means hitting the mall for a little “back to school” shopping. However, it’s important to remember that growing bodies need proper support in order to develop properly. If we really want to set our kids up for success, we need to make sure they’re physically well prepared to make the most of the school year. Here are a few tips for helping your kids make the most of the coming school year. CHECK BACKPACKS TO AVOID BACK PAIN & MORE: Did you know that if a backpack is too big, too full or too unevenly balanced, it can lead to lower back pain, shoulder pain and other health issues for your child? Younger kids are especially at risk since their size makes the weight of their backpacks that much greater. The ideal backpack should be lightweight, with two wide & padded shoulder straps (narrow straps can dig into a child’s shoulders) and a padded back. You should also teach your child to pack his/her backpack evenly making use of the various compartments to most effectively distribute the weight. They should also avoid carrying any unnecessary items and wear the back pack properly with the straps cinched in. GET FEET CHECKED TO AVOID ANKLE, KNEE & HIP INJURIES: We all know that most kids experience growth spurts during the summer, which is why back to school shopping often involves new shoes. The problem is we tend to focus more on style and size and often forget about support. Because children are continually growing, because their bones are still quite soft and because our feet represent the foundation for our entire body, ensuring proper fit/support is key to ensuring proper development and the prevention of injuries - especially for active children. To help ensure your child’s feet are properly supported, it’s a good idea to get them checked (particularly if you see uneven wear patterns on their shoes which may indicate an alignment issue). If there are arch or alignment issues, a pair of orthotics can help keep their feet in the right position which, in turn, will reduce pain, prevent injuries and generally make movement easier. If there are no structural issues, you still need to get shoes that provide a good degree of support to help prevent ankle, knee and hip injuries. MAKE SURE THEY GET ENOUGH DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Many children (like many adults) simply aren’t getting the amount of daily physical activity they need. In fact, Canadian children and youth were recently given a “D minus” grade for overall physical activity levels by “Active Healthy Kids Canada” with children between the ages of five and 17 reported as being the most at risk. As you know, physical activity is key for healthy development and reduces the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese. To help boost activity levels consider organized sports, active play and even active transportation (walking and biking instead of driving, for example). While we tend to assume that our kids are active, the increasing use of computers, smart phones, tablets, gaming consoles and other electronic devices has made that an unsafe assumption. AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY: Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but the point is that children need healthy food in order to support the healthy development of their bodies and to ensure they have the energy and the focus they need to be able to succeed in and out of the classroom. When it comes to snacks and lunches, be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Try to avoid processed foods as much possible since these often contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and other ingredients that don’t provide the energy they need and that make it harder for them to stay focused and engaged in learning. SLEEP, SLEEP & MORE SLEEP: Getting proper sleep is critical for maintaining good health. However, as important as it is for us adults, it’s even more so for children - given how much their brains/bodies are changing and growing. Not getting enough sleep also leaves children feeling irritable, clumsy and unable to think clearly which ultimately undermines their academic and social development. So, how much sleep does a child really need? The answer is that while it does vary by age, most experts agree that children between the ages of 5 and 12 need about 10 or 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. In order to make sure that your child gets enough sleep, create a specific bedtime routine and sleep schedule. You’ll be amazed at just how it improves virtually about every aspect of your child’s life. Need help with getting your child’s school year off on the right foot? Please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Whether it’s checking their backpack, examining their feet or helping with nutrition, at Physiomed, Healthier Starts Here.