So school holidays are over and it’s time for parents to start their weekly routines of school drop offs and pick-ups. How often to you give your child a hug and wave to them goodbye and think “Gee the way they carry their backpack can’t be good for their back and spinal health”.
It has been shown in a recent study that over 50% of children are complaining of back pain by the age of 14. A large contributing factor to this is their school
backpacks. As a Chiropractor to see how much stress and strain children today are placing on their spine due to excessive loads in their backpacks is a
concern. Not to mention or forget the increased time in which they spend on screens on sitting slumped in their chairs because its “comfy”.
Health experts say children risk long-term and ultimately permanent damage if they regularly carry more than 15 per cent of their body weight over their shoulders. For example if your child weighs 30 kilograms and their backpack weighs 4.5kgs they are at risk. Some children regularly carrying 20-25% of their body weight.
The back will compensate for any load applied to it for an extended period of time. A heavy weight carried in backpacks can:
- Distort the natural curvature of the spine, particularly in the middle and lower backs. This can cause muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage.
- Rounding of the shoulders.
- Change the position of your childs centre of gravity thus causing them to lean forward, reducing balance. This can make it easier and more susceptible to falls.
So, as a parent what are the things you can do to help?
- Ensure the backpack is mounted firmly on the top of both shoulders, as carrying the backpack over one shoulder is detrimental.
- Place heavier items such as textbooks in the middle so they as close to the spine as possible
- Regularly clean out the backpack and make sure the items packed do not move around too much.
Every child should have their spines assessed for abnormalities caused by heavy and incorrectly worn backpacks.
There are a number of things we can do to help reduce and alleviate potential problems and pains caused. This includes:
- Strengthening exercises for your stomach, back and hips
- Tips and tricks on how to pack their backpacks
- Advice on visual cues when your child is struggling with the weight of their backpack
- Muscle releases on tight and overactive muscle groups supporting their spine
- Postural adjustments to reduce the risk of further injury
For more information please call (03) 9995 8164 or email us your questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. David Lam (Chiropractor)