What do you know about your children’s posture?

Aug 25, 2013

What do you know about your children’s posture?

As the new school year approaches you are probably busy rushing around making sure the uniform is ready (and still fits), perhaps getting new shoes and stocking up on stationery but how many of you have given thought to your child’s school bag or preparing their bodies for a new school term? What do you know about your children’s posture?

Before your kids go back to school let us take you to “back” school

As adults many of us (unfortunately) will be familiar with back or neck pain from poor posture, carrying around heavy bags or being tied to the desk all day at work.

“Hang on a minute….. don’t all those things apply to our kids too?”  This is perhaps why 10% of pre-teens and 50% of 15-16 years old complain of back pain (Shier-Neiss GI et al,).  In fact poor postural habits can start as early as primary school age (Taylor A.)

From our experience there are certainly a growing number of young people being brought into the clinic with aches and pains, as a result of poor posture.

But don’t despair, at Cheadle Osteopathy we are all about giving you the tools to understand why a problem occurs and how it can be prevented, with these helpful tips and advice (pssst…..all this advice applies to the Mum’s and Dad’s too).

Sitting pretty


Sitting, especially in a slouched posture can increase the compression of structures in the spine, and cause damage to the discs (gel filled bags in between the vertebrae).

But how do we “sit properly” to minimise it?  This diagram should help.


Top Tips

  • If your child is too small to reach the floor when they are sat properly in the chair – use a foot rest/box/pile of books to “raise the floor” so they are able to have their feet flat on a solid surface and be at the correct height to use the desk properly.
  • Remove arm rests from chairs – they only prevent you from being able to tuck in underneath the desk.

It’s in the bag

These days, especially at secondary school, kids seem to keep everything “in the bag”.  From text books to water, packed lunches and sports kits – it all adds up.  A typical school bag, including sports kits can add up to 7kg – that’s 14 bags of sugar!

So how heavy is too heavy when it comes to your Child’s school bag?

The strain placed on children's posture by heavy bags.

The strain placed on children’s posture by heavy school bags.

Every child is different so the best thing to do is to weigh your child and weigh their bag – the weight of the bag shouldn’t exceed 10% of the child’s body weight (Brackley & stevenson 2004, Moore et al 2007, Taylor L.).  Ideally the bag should have two wide shoulder straps that should be tight enough to hold the bag closely against the spine, with the base of the bag at waist level (Grimmer et al 2002).  More petite children need smaller, slimmer bags.

All ladies out there will know the bigger the handbag the more “essentials” we start carrying around with us.  The same goes for school bags and handbags – only have them big enough for what you actually need, to avoid the temptation to over fill.


Top Tips

  • Packing the bag:  place the empty bag on a table.  Put the heaviest items at the back of your bag so that they will sit closest to your spine once you put the bag on.  Other items should be loaded in descending weight as you move from the back (against your spine) to the front of the bag.  When the back is loaded leave it on the table whilst you put both arms through the straps before you lift it.
  • Re pack the bag every night to ensure they are only carrying what’s required for each day (this includes handbags and work bags too).

Don’t forget to do your homework

Developing good habits requires repetition so keeping up the good work at home is vital and whether the kids admit to it or not, as parents you’re their main role models – so lead by example and sort out your own desk and bag for work.

Diet and exercise are the essential building blocks of healthy bones and muscles.  Exercising together as a family (Pilates and Yoga classes that parents and older children can attend together are great), will benefit the whole family and it’s a great way of spending quality time with each other.

Top Tips

Carbonated drinks, should be kept to a minimum, (including fizzy water) as they leech calcium out of bones – don’t believe us?  Get the kids to leave a chicken bone in a glass of cola overnight and see what happens – yuk!

If you have any questions or would like further information about exercises, back care or school bag selection, please do not hesitate to contact us – we would be happy to advise you.

Contact us on 0161 4781877


Useful Articles:



Brackley HM, Stevenson JM, “Are children’s back pack weight limits enough? A critical review of the relevant literature” Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2004 Oct 1;29(19):2184-90

Grimmer K, et al “Adolescent standing postural response to backpack loads: A randomised Controlle experimental study” BMC Musculoskeletal Disord. 2002;3:10

Shier-Neiss GI et al, “The associateion of backpack use and back pain in adolescents” Department of Research, Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Delaware 19899, USA

Taylor. L, Children first physiotherapy – School back care policy (primary) – Ensuring good back health for pupils and staff.

What do you know about your children’s posture?


Related Posts

Meet the team- Rob
Meet the team- Rob

Rob is not only a brilliant osteopath but also one of the partners in the business at Cheadle.  He lives locally with his wife and three kids. Having been in practice for 20 years, he has a wealth of experience and a loyal following of patients, who have benefited...

read more
Meet the team – Hannah
Meet the team – Hannah

Hannah is a fantastic part of our team.  Not only does she treat all the usual aches and pains but she is a specialist in women's health and paediatrics - she has a wealth of knowledge!! Her warm, friendly and approachable style, mean she is loved by older patients...

read more
Meet the team: Gemma
Meet the team: Gemma

Gemma is one of our expert osteopaths, paediatric specialist, and one of the directors at the clinic, as well as being married to fellow osteopath and business partner Cyril. When not in clinic she is probably strolling round a garden centre with their two girls (9...

read more