At the end of January, children from all over the Dubbo region returned to school. It's a busy time but it's also an important time for parents and guardians to become mindful of their children's postural health for the year ahead.
As kids spend upwards of 200 days at school annually, it's crucial they are aware of their daily habits, like their posture in class, or how they wear their backpacks to and from school.
If these small practices remain unchecked for long enough, they can cause serious health issues, especially when it comes to the spine.
The Australian Chiropractors Association has developed a 'Back to School Health Checklist' to remind both children and their parents of the daily habits they should be practising all year round.
Local ACA chiropractor Madison Ryan is encouraging people to come in and collect the checklist, so they can not only tick off their school supplies list- but their health one as well.
Ms Ryan started checking the kids backpacks initiative so that kids returning to school would have backpacks that are good for both them and their spines.
"It was a way for kids to come through with mum and dad where I can sit down with them and make sure it's not compromising their spine" she said.
"Kids are growing rapidly, so if we can implement good behaviours from a young age, there's potential we're going to limit bad postural habits later on in life."
Ms Ryan explained that it was good for kids to wear their backpack close & central to their spine and to put the heaviest objects closest to the spine.
She also mentioned that kids should wear both arm strap, not just one, to allow equal pressure between both sides of the body.
"Make sure they are only packing the essentials as if they're packing too much they could be loading up their spine unnecessarily", she said.
It is also important to reduce wearing a backpack for no more than 30 minutes at a time and to secure the sternum and waist straps.
"Kids are wearing backpacks for a minimum of 12 years at school, I'm big on making sure they have it right from the start so they carry good habits right up to year 12 and potentially into university as well," she said.
MS Ryan said kids often do what is comfortable at the time, but for their growing spines there's potential it could have consequences down the line.
"I genuinely think educating kids from a young age is super important and priceless. If we can give them a good understanding of good spinal health and an understanding of how to positively influence their biomechanics, that's really helpful in later life," she said.
"I think educating early with kids to prevent problems later on in life is much better than treating possible consequential spinal issues when they're 20, 30 , 40."
"They are simple to incorporate and easily fit into a child's everyday routine. For instance, packing a healthy lunch, sitting with an upright posture and wearing their backpack correctly," Ms Ryan said.
The Health Checklist also reminds kids to get out and exercise after school and reduce screen time where possible.
"We are also asking parents if they are concerned about their child's spine in any way or would like advice on any other back to school related issues, like sizing the backpack, or how to sit properly at their school desks, to consider our chiropractic services," she said.
This comes as the ACA launches its annual Back to School campaign, which educates Aussie kids on the importance of maintaining their spinal health and well-being throughout the year, especially at school.
"Kids aren't often aware of the impact that common activities like sitting in a classroom or carrying a heavy bag and excessive screen time, can have on their overall health and well-being," she said.