Physiotherapy is recognised, respected and rewarded for its essential contribution to health and social care. Discover how the profession can help you, every day.

Many factors affect your health. Some you cannot control, such as your genetic makeup or your age. But you can make changes to your lifestyle. By taking steps toward healthy living, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious diseases. For example:

  • See your doctor for regular screenings, not just when you are sick
  • Be physically active, see a physiotherapist
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, and limit calories and saturated fat
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Quit smoking
  • Protect yourself from too much sun

Heavy backpacks a strain on school children:

As Zimbabwean school children head back to the class room next month, the Zimbabwean Physiotherapy Association (ZPA) is reminding parents to monitor their children’s backpack loads. Carrying a heavy backpack can be a source of chronic strain; and can cause shoulder, neck and back pain in children. ‘ According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association An overloaded or incorrectly-worn backpack creates stress on the spine,’ APA President Marcus Dripps said. ‘This stress can cause your child to lean too far forward and experience distortion of the natural curve of the spine, rolling their shoulders and causing a more rounded upper-back.’ ‘Some students wear their bag on only one shoulder, and they might walk tilted to one side and suffer neck pain. If the bag straps are too thin, they can dig into the shoulder muscles and strain the neck,’ Mr Dripps explained. Physiotherapists recommend that a backpack should weigh no more than 10 per cent of a child’s body weight.However a recent study, on the incidence of back problems in children aged 12-17 years, found that 61.4% of children carried more than 10 per cent of their bodyweight on their backs on a daily basis

Five things to look for when choosing a back pack:

  1. Wide shoulder straps that are comfortable and sit well on the shoulder
  2. Waist and chest straps to help transfer some of the load to the hips and pelvis
  3. A padded back-support that allows the pack to fit ‘snugly’ on the back
  4. The backpack must fit the child. Don’t buy a big pack to ‘grow’ into, when sitting with the backpack on, the pack should not extend higher than the child’s shoulders
  5. Look for one that carries an endorsement from a professional health organisation. The APA endorses Spartan Physiopaks.

Six things to remember when your child starts school:

  • Keep the load close to the spine – pack the heaviest items nearest to your child’s back Children must wear both straps at all times
  • Back packs should always weigh less than 10 per cent of your child’s body weight
  • Encourage your child to be physically active, this will help them build and maintain a strong spine
  • Encourage your child to be organised when packing their bag for school – check their timetable to ensure they are only carrying what they need
  • To decrease the load your child should have separate folders for each subject so that they can only bring home what they need for their homework
  • Parents should contact a physiotherapist if they are concerned about their child’s posture or back health. Paediatric physiotherapists have particular expertise in this area.