For young children, 10% of their body weight might only be a few kilos so if they’re carrying lots of books and things they don’t really need, this will be too much weight for them. You see it every day, children with their heavy backpacks, leaning forward as they’re walking.
Carrying that sort of weight every day can certainly affect children’s posture and set off issues that may develop in the future. Children can start to experience back pain from the age of 11-15 and if it starts then, there is a greater likelihood of it continuing into adulthood. Often, they and their parents don’t take back pain seriously because it comes and goes. Previous international studies suggest that as many as 80% of children believe their backpacks are too heavy and almost half of children feel their backpack is causing them back ache.
Here is a list of tips to prevent potential back problems for schoolchildren:
- Always wear backpacks on both shoulders
- Buy a bag with thick shoulder straps to distribute the weight evenly
- Choose a bag made of lightweight material and has multiple compartments for better weight distribution
- Adjust the straps on a backpack to ensure the bag sits above the waist which reduces the pressure on the spine.
- Bags with a waist strap are also recommended.
- Use school lockers where provided, use lightweight packed lunch containers and, crucially, to carry only what is absolutely needed.
- Ideally, parents should buy backpacks that are chiropractor-approved.
Parents can also look out for tell-tale signs that their child is struggling under the weight of their bags.
Warning signs include a change in posture when wearing their backpack, tingling and numbness in the arms and hands, and back, neck or shoulder pain.
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