The summer holidays are over and the kids are back at school. I can just imagine the silent cheers from some parents reading this right now! Adorned in their new uniforms along with pens, pencils, books and sports kit, is it my imagination but are children carrying much more stuff these days and are the bags getting bigger and heavier?
The spine is what keeps us upright, with the help of the muscles and ligaments that attach to it. Carrying heavy bags while a young body is still developing could put children’s physical development at risk, resulting in back and postural problems.
A heavy rucksack disturbs the natural alignment of the spine causing the child to bend forward to counter balance the heavy load. If carried on one shoulder this can effect the natural curve of the spine causing the spine to bend to the side, forming into a C shape. This can all lead to the development of bad posture.
According to Back Care UK the recommended maximum weight a child should carry is around 10% of their body weight. This is to include things like their water bottle and lunchbox etc. As more and more school are no longer providing lockers or desk to store books and other items, children therefore, have not choice but to carry all their belonging with them all day, which is a pain in the neck, literally… pardon the pun!
So if your child is complaining that their back, neck or shoulders hurts or even headaches chances are it could be their school bag.
Top Tips to Keeping Your Child’s Spine Healthy
- When buying a school bag for your child, choose a rucksack. Some bags can be heavy even without items in them. Therefore, when choosing a bag it is important to make sure that it is not too heavy to begin with and not too big.
- Make sure the rucksack is sturdy with wide padded adjustable shoulder straps to help spread the load and a cushioned back. This not only reduces the pressure on the neck, shoulder and back area but can also be adjusted as the child grows (saving you money in the long run, if it last that long that is!)
- Make sure that the rucksack is not to big for their needs. (They will only fill it up with unnecessary stuff!)
- Teach them at an early age to wear their rucksack correctly. Ensure that the rucksack is worn on both their shoulders.
- Check your child’s rucksack every day to ensure that s/he is carrying only the necessary things that are need for the day.
- Check their posture when the bag is on their back. If you notice your child leaning forward or slouching, check if the bag is too heavy or if it has been packed incorrectly.
- Place heavier items in the middle of the bag close to your child’s back.
- To reduce weight before your child gets to school send them off with an empty water bottle which they can then fill up when they get to school.
When your child comes home from school, check their bag and see how it looks against the tips above. Make the necessary changes to ensure minimal risk of problems in the future. If your child is having any problems or complaining of pain make sure you get them assessed by an osteopath or health professional. Small changes made now can make significant changes in the future. I offer a FREE telephone consultation, so if you have any questions or your child is complaining of a sore back, I may be able to help. Contact me and arrange a free telephone consultation. I am here to help.