(Gabie Falconer- Chiropractor)
As the start of a new school year draws closer, it comes as a timely reminder of the risk that Australian children are of damaging their spines from incorrectly packed and heavy school backpacks.
A lot of adult back pain and spinal disorders can be attributed to childhood activities including carrying heavily loaded school bags for twelve or more years of schooling. Although many of the current school bags appear to be fashionable they don’t allow for even distribution across the back leading to pain.
Ensuring your child is as comfortable as possible is important to their physical and mental development in an already challenging time. According to an international study, daily backpack carrying is a frequent cause of discomfort for school children. School backpacks were felt to be heavy by 79.1% of children, to cause fatigue by 65.7%, and to cause back pain by 46.1%1.
The long term effects of carrying a heavy backpack can have on a child are:
– Poor posture
– Reduced blood flow to the limbs
– Numbness in the arms
– Distort natural curve in the mid and upper back
– Contribute to headache and neck pain
– Lead to muscle strain
– Cause muscles to compensate for uneven weight causing tightness
– Place stress on the spine and discs
Tips for choosing and carrying the right back pack:
o Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10% of a student’s weight when packed.
o Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest
o Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps
o Use both shoulder straps – never sling the pack over one shoulder
o Use waist straps attached – they are there for a good reason
o Don’t wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back
o Don’t overload the backpack – use school lockers and plan homework well in advance
o Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight
Each week, there are over 215,000 visits to Australian chiropractors for a broad range of reasons. Chiropractors are uniquely positioned to educate parents, teachers and students about spinal health care through their minimum five years university training. Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective and can help restore correct function and relieve pain symptoms associated with carrying heavy backpacks.
For your Free Postural Assessment, call the clinic on 02 9651 5559 to book an appointment with one of our Chiropractors!
1. Negrini, S., & Carabalona, R (2002). Backpacks on! Schoolchildren’s Perceptions of Load, Associations with Back Pain and Factors Determining the Load. Spine, 27(2), 187-195.