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24 JanBack to school: your must read checklist

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over and it’s soon time to get ready for the new school year. If you’re like most of us, this means last year’s school shoes no longer fit! CSSM Osteopath Jade Hunt has some advice on all things back to school – from finding the right school shoes to ensuring a heavy backpack doesn’t cause any spinal problems for your child.


While it can be an expensive time of year, it’s important to remember students spend a lot of time in their school shoes, taking up to 16,000 steps a day so getting the right school shoe is important.


You not only want a school shoe to be comfortable but you also need to consider what activities your child will be participating in.


We’re here to help put you on the right track, to not only get the best value for money, but to get the right fit for your child.


Some of the latest research has found that a design of flexible school shoes can help improve balance in children. It is best for children’s feet to move in the most natural way possible so that their muscle structure, foot strength and balance can improve as they go through growth spurts.


A randomised control trial consisting of 70 students aged between 9-12 years old showed that there was improved balance in those who wore lightweight and flexible shoes, in contrast to wearing a traditional rigid school shoe. The journal article even stated that children reap benefits when barefoot, but this is not an option in school due to safety. Therefore, Dr Quinlain (2022) reported that “our study suggests the ideal shoe design for children would be sufficiently flexible to allow the foot to move similar to when barefoot whilst still protecting the foot from the elements and rough terrain. This study is the first long-term research to investigate the effects of school shoe design, which is important because children spend a considerable amount of time in their shoes at school each weekday, potentially impacting their growth and development.”


Before you purchase school shoes, ask your child: 

-How much running do they do in their shoes?

-How many days per week do they wear them?

-And how old are their current school shoes?


It’s important to ask these questions, as shoe technology has improved significantly over the previous couple of years. Companies such as Ascent  are making school shoes with running shoe technology to increase movement efficiency and decrease the overall weight of the shoe, whilst still sticking to uniform guidelines. The only downside is that these shoes do wear out quicker than traditional shoes.

Purchasing shoes in a bigger size so that your child will “grow in to them” is a big NO! Having a shoe that is too big can lead to blisters and musculoskeletal conditions of the foot and lower leg, which can lead to big problems going forward. A perfect shoe fit is 0.5-1 size on top of your measured foot size to allow for the foot to swell during activity without restricting motion.

What to look for: 
  • Weight: the lightest shoe possible.
  • Flexibility: there should be movement when the shoe is twisted in opposite directions and you should be able to bend the shoe from toe to heel.
  • Structure: a minimal height difference from the heel to under the balls of the foot.
  • Width across the forefoot: should not rub on the foot.
  • Comfort: your child should be comfortable in the shoes straight away without feeling any pain.
  • Toe room: your child should be able to wiggle their toes.
  • Wait: try shoes on later in the day as feet tend to swell by the afternoon.

If you have any questions, come and see the Podiatry team here at CSSM.



Backpacks can be heavy with textbooks, computers, lunch and sporting equipment all crammed in. This is particularly concerning for junior students as the spine is at a critical stage of development between 12 and 14 years of age.

According to the Australian Physiotherapy Association, 70 per cent of children will suffer back pain because of heavy backpacks.

Backpacks should weigh no more than 10 per cent of a child’s weight. However, recent studies have shown that the school bags of more than half (61%) of school aged children exceed that.

Studies have reported the highest level of discomfort is in the shoulders and back as well as the neck.

Ideally, you want to lower the backpack weight but there are a few things you can do to eliminate discomfort and injury:


-Only take the books you need for that day and leave the rest at school or in a locker.

-The ideal backpack has wide shoulder straps that are comfortable and sit well on the shoulder and a padded back support that fits snugly on the back.

-Pack the heaviest items at the base of the bag closest to the spine.

-Don’t make the mistake of thinking your child will grow into a backpack. The backpack shouldn’t sit higher than the child’s shoulders when sitting down.

-The straps should be shortened until the bottom of the backpack is just above the child’s waist, and not sitting on their buttocks.

Our team is more than happy to answer any questions or help to fit a backpack properly.


https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2022/01/24/light–flexible-school-shoes-the-best-option-for-kids–new-resea.html. Retrieved on 16/01/23.

How to buy the right school shoes for your child | CHOICE

What to look for when buying quality kids school shoes at a good price, plus what we found when we compared cheap school shoes from Target to an expensive pair from Clarks.

About the authors

Jade Hunt Camberwell Osteopath


CSSM Osteopath Jade Hunt enjoys treating a range of injuries including necks, low back, hip and feet. She also has a special interest in helping people with study/workplace ergonomics to help prevent and minimise the risk for injuries. Jade’s goal as an osteopath is to make patients feel comfortable and safe in the treatment room, taking a collaborative approach in their health care so that together they can work towards their goals, whatever they may be.