Back to school basics – Melina Mirzaei, Kinesiologist
Back to school season is upon us! This can be a stressful time for parents and students alike as everyone gets back to the school-year routine. Here are a few tips to ease the physical stresses of this time of year.
Backpacks are the most practical option for most people when carrying books and laptops around. They are definitely a better bet than single-strap shoulder bags, which can pull you into awkward postures. Important things to consider when buying a backpack are the size and strap options. Make sure the size is appropriate for your body (i.e. small bags for small people). If you expect to be carrying heavy books and/or walking a lot with your backpack on, consider buying one that has waist and chest straps. Fastening these will help distribute the load across your body, easing some of the strain on your back, neck and shoulders. Remember to always carry your backpack on both shoulders – it can be tempting to just throw it casually over one shoulder, but your body will thank you in the long run if you wear it properly now.
Students spend a lot of time sitting. Sitting in class, sitting in transit, sitting in the library. This leads to “student posture”, which generally involves a hunched back, chin poking forward, and shoulders slumped.
As in any occupation, too much time sitting like this can lead to aches and pains. It is worthwhile to continually self-check your posture when you are studying. Start with a good chair – it shouldn’t be too cushy or too rigid, and should have good support for your lower back. When seated, you should be able to place both feet flat on the floor. Try not to cross your legs, as this will further pull you out of alignment. If you are working at a computer, make sure the monitor is at about eye level (not on your lap!) to avoid straining your neck. Most importantly, take breaks from sitting. Get up and walk around, and take the time to stretch. Which leads us to the next point…
Everyone needs to make time to exercise, both for the physical and mental benefits. You need brain breaks to stay productive, and to look at something other than your textbooks every so often. Getting your body moving, whether you are running, weight training or doing yoga will be beneficial to keep you from stiffening up and permanently adopting the aforementioned student posture. Doing a little bit every day is beneficial, so take advantage of breaks in your day to go for a walk or a quick gym session.
Hopefully this tips will help keep you going strong throughout the school year. If you encounter any aches and pains, or would like more advice on these topics, contact the GPP team at 604.569.3891.
Written by Melina Mirzaei