School Backpacks Can Be A Pain In The Back!
As children are returning to school, Coolum Family Chiropractic would like parents to be aware of the risks of the potential long term spinal damage that can be caused through incorrectly packed and fitted school backpacks.
A study conducted by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) revealed 90% of school children have bad posture when carrying their bags which could result in spinal damage.
Heavy weighted backpacks can cause muscle strain, irritation, and negative postural changes, which can lead to back pain and spinal disorders, particularly after carrying a heavily loaded backpack for twelve years or more of schooling. Many of the current bags children use may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even weight distribution across the back, they can cause a lot of discomfort for children.
Findings published in the Australian Spine journal revealed that the weight of the average backpack is often heavier, proportionally, than the legal load-bearing limit for adults. Another international study revealed 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%.
School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important for their physical and mental development. The following tips are a good guideline for school backpacks.
Tips for carrying heavy backpacks
1. Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10% of a student’s weight when packed.
2. Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest
3. Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than good looks
4. Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps
5. Use both shoulder straps – never sling the pack over one shoulder
6. Use waist straps attached – they are there for a good reason
7. Don’t wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back
8. Don’t overload the backpack – use school lockers and plan homework well in advance
9. Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better weight distribution
Another postural concern for our kids is the increasing use of technology and the incidence of ‘Text Neck’.
‘Text neck’ is a relatively new phenomenon. It can occur due to your neck position when you look at your phone for an extended time.
In order to look at your screen, you need to bend your head into a dropped forwards position. This unnatural posture actually reverses the normal backwards curve of the cervical spine (your neck), changing its’ natural shape and placing excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments in the neck. Over time this creates a posture where the head pokes forwards, potentially leading to permanent spinal damage.
Chiropractors are uniquely positioned to educate parents, teachers and students about spinal health care through their minimum five years university training. Each week, there are over 215,000 visits to Australian chiropractors for a broad range of reasons.
Chiropractic care has been proven to be safe and effective, even for kids. Chiropractic can help to restore correct spinal function and relieve pain associated with carrying heavy backpacks.
If you would like to have a postural assessment for your kids, give us a call!