How heavy is your back pack?


National Physiotherapy Back Week was held from 5 to 11 September, and World Physiotherapy Day was commemorated on 8 September.
Local physio therapists last week visited Hoërskool Oosterland, Hoërskool Secunda, Curro Primary School and Highveld Park High School.
They spoke about what is Physiotherapy and why physical activity is important for good health and handed out Frisbees and yo-yos to encourage active, safe play.
The therapists also played Frisbee and other games with the children. “It was a lot of fun and we wish we could have visited more schools,” said Alexa Pohl.
Three Physiotherapy practices were involved: Alexa Pohl Physiotherapists Inc (Physios: Alexa Pohl, Zaahid Omar, Mehtaab Roomanay and the receptionist: Henriette Nel), and Zanelle Olivier and Hanlie Burger (both Physios at their own practices).
“We’d like to thank the schools for giving us the opportunity to visit the kids, The Bulletin for taking pictures and the SASP (South African Society of Physiotherapy) for the promotional material,” said Alexa.
If anyone wants to find out more about Physiotherapy and how Physiotherapists can help them they, can check out, tweet @PhysioSA, visit the Facebook page ‘South African Society of Physiotherapy’ or call 011 615 3170 (head office).
What’s in the back pack
• Many children carry bags on their backs that are simply too heavy for them. International guidelines say children should carry no more than 10-15% of their bodyweight.
• Girls are often smaller than boys, but carry the same weight of books and homework. Recent research showed that 31% of boys carried overly heavy bags, compared to nearly 42% of girls.
• A 2003 study showed children were carrying upwards of 7.5 kg on their backs – that’s about 25% of their bodyweight for a child of about 30 kg
• From a 2014 study, we learn that: “About 88.2% of pupils reported having body pain especially in the neck, shoulders and upper back.”
“About 35.4% of the children reported that carrying the schoolbag was the cause of their musculoskeletal pain.”
“The prevalence of lower back pain was 37.8%.”
• The further a child walks carrying that load, the more likely it is that back pain may develop.
• Ill-fitting bags cause more pain: use a bag with adjustable straps, always ensure there’s no gap between the bag and the back, and don’t let your child wear a bag over one shoulder only.

A human head weighs about 4.5-5.5 kilos, made up of brainpower, skull protection and muscle mass, all poised on top of a pole-like structure: your neck.
When you bend your head forward by 30 degrees to check a screen, you’re putting about 12 kilos of strain on your spine and the muscles of your neck.
Do that for several hours a day and voila! Text neck! That means:
• Headaches
• Pain in the neck and shoulders
• Curvature of the spine (especially children)
Some physiotherapy tips to prevent text neck:
• Use voice whenever possible – put the loudspeaker on when you chat, use voice recognition apps.
• Bend your eyes down to see the screen rather than your neck.
• Bring the phone up so you’re looking at it head-on instead of at an angle
• Text less (yes, it’s possible!)
• Aim for good posture, like this:
Imagine someone is standing over you, holding your head up by a string attached to the top of your head. Keep your chin tucked in. That? That’s good posture!
• Strrreeettch. Give those neck muscles a break like this:
Sit up straight, and feel the pull of that string attached to the top of your head……
Twist your head slowly towards your left shoulder.
Twist your head slowly towards your right shoulder.
Tilt your head to the left shoulder (aim your ear towards the shoulder, while relaxing the shoulder)
Repeat to the right.

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