As summer ends and we reluctantly prepare ourselves for less daylight hours, big puffy coats and turning on the heating. Autumn signals time for schools to return and the bigger kids to head back to work!
Bags full of books and long hours at a desk aren’t the best recipe for a healthy back, so this article is our Return to School/work ABC.
A is for Angles – 90 degree angles at your desk
It is well documented that the most effective posture to be seated at a desk is a collection of 90 degree angles. From the ankles, to the knees, to the hips, to the elbows, all of these joint angles should be roughly 90 degrees. This indicates that feet are flat on the floor, the lower back is upright without being to flexed or extended and that the computer mouse is within comfortable distance and not pulling the arm forward and torso into rotation.
Don’t forget that this is not a universal fix and that even sitting for long hours in a good posture can cause back pain too.
B is for Bags – shoulder straps x2
The average school bag weighs in around 7kgs. This excludes the added weight of a PE/games kit bag. It doesn’t sound like a lot but the recommended weight of such a bag should exceed no more than 10% of one’s body weight, as a rough guide, (according to the American Academy of Paediatrics). Unless you have a 12 year old child who weighs 70kgs, could your child be carrying a bag that is too heavy for them?
Let’s face it, roller bags are not exactly a popular choice for school children, but what are the consequences of wearing a trendy shoulder bag? Quite simply, rather than distributing 7kgs across the shoulders – the 7kgs hangs off one shoulder. Too much pressure or tension through the upper trapezius muscle across the shoulder can cause headaches. Starting to sound familiar? So what can you do about it we hear you ask? You don’t want to chuck that shoulder bag away that you just brought. How about alternating sides that it’s worn on? Failing this get a shoulder bag with thicker more padded straps. Or our personal favourite…..chuck it out and get a double strap bag!
Those of you out there with double strap bags don’t think you have halos above your heads! Still got back pain? Try wearing the bag a bit higher, it shouldn’t be swinging around your bum, more like at the bottom of your rib cage. If the straps hurt then maybe it’s time to invest in a more padded comfortable rucksack. If it’s a big bag then be sensible and only put in it what you really need to take with you or the bag will become a dumping ground and before you know it you’ll be carrying everything but the kitchen sink.
Pause and take 5 minutes today to check what weight your child is carrying; how suitable their bag is and if it is positioned correctly. You may just avert back problems for them in later life.
C is for Commuting – posture in the car
For some people work involves commuting for long hours or their job is driving based and travelling around. No point getting an ergonomic setup correct at the desk if your office on wheels is poorly setup. Heavy traffic, poor weather conditions and bad eyesight can all prompt our head to slope forwards and extend, potentially causing shoulders to round and pull us away from the head restraint which is providing good support.
Adjust your mirrors to work well for an upright and correct posture, if you have an adjustable back support adjust it to hug your body and this will prompt the upright position. If you can raise the height of the seat to allow you better view of the road you will not need to extend your head upwards to be able to look down at the bonnet.
Here at Amber we have advice for every letter of the alphabet. If any of this information strikes a chord with you then we might be able to help. Posture and related pains are our speciality.