Each year Chiropractors grow more concerned about the life-long spinal problems that can be caused when children fall victim to schoolyard fashion trends and carry “trendy” but poorly designed school bags.
As Australian children head off to school every day, up to 70% of children are risking preventable spinal damage by carrying badly fitted or overloaded bags. Many of the current bags that children are using may be fashionable but unless they allow for even weight distribution, they can cause symptoms such as back and neck pain, headaches and numbness or tingling in the arms. Studies show a direct connection to these problems being associated with an overloaded, poorly-fitting backpack.
By the age of 40, a large percentage of our population will suffer from a chronic spinal disability and it is becoming apparent that adult back pain and spinal disorders can stem from childhood activities, including carrying a heavily loaded bag for 12 years.
Figures from research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine have shown that 68.6% of children using handheld bags and 53.7% of children carrying a bag on one shoulder are experiencing back pain. Using a backpack instead of a carry bag can reduce the incidence of back pain by more than 23% but this is only when the backpack is worn correctly over both shoulders. This is not only important for minimising pain but also helps avoid curvatures of the spine.
Also, school backpacks are felt to be heavy by 79.1%, causing fatigue in 65.7% and to cause back pain in 46.1%. Be aware that if your child leans forwards whilst carrying the bag it is probably overloaded.
The spinal function can be assessed by a simple check-up with your chiropractor. Early detection and attention to spinal problems can make a lifetime of difference!
Vital tips for backpack safety and comfort:
- Never carry loads weighing any more than 10-15% of their body weight.
- Avoid carrying heavy bags for long periods of time.
- Use a backpack rather than a carry bag.
- Choose a backpack with wide, padded straps.
- Adjust the straps so that the pack fits snugly against the back.
- Wear backpacks over both shoulders to distribute weight evenly and avoid curving the spine.
- Choose a bag with multiple compartments to better distribute the weight.
- Place heavier items closest to the back.
- See your Chiropractor have a posture check as well as a backpack assessment/fitting. This infographic explains exactly what can happen to your kid’s body from travelling with all of that extra weight on their backs — and what you can do about it.
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