(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A month before the new school year starts, shops are bursting with backpacks and shoes for children, but Schneider Children’s Medical Center experts warn that not all of them are good for pupils.
Nili Arbel, head of the Petah Tikva hospital’s physiotherapy service, urged parents this week to follow recommendations before they make their purchases. Children’s backs are very sensitive, and schoolbags must be suited to their bodies. The backpacks should have wide straps filled with foam to protect the shoulders from being hurt.
There should be enough dividers so that the weight of textbooks and notebooks can be balanced rather than most of the weight placed on one side. The straps should also be adjustable so that the bags are worn in the center of the back and not too low or high; the two straps should be set at equal length. The back of the bag should be made of material that protects the child’s back from being “stabbed” by sharp objects.
Children should be told to report to parents any back or shoulder pains while wearing backpacks. Only books and equipment that they need for that day should be taken to and from class; lockers for overnight storage are preferable if they are available. A full backpack should weigh only up to 15 percent of the child’s body weight.
A schoolbag on wheels that is pulled with one arm should be used only if
the way to and from school permits easy access. If it is too heavy and
has to be dragged up the stairs, it can cause asymmetric exertion on one
side of the body. It is best to alternate use of the arms.
As for shoes, the fronts should be rounded so as not to pinch the toes.
Toes shouldn’t come out the front of sandals while walking; such sandals
are too small. Footwear should be flexible and breathe, said Arbel.
Socks that are too big or small can also cause difficulties. Laces
should be tied so they don’t open easily.
Footwear should preferably be purchased at the end of an active day,
when the feet are somewhat swollen.