The new school year means children are back at school sitting for long periods at the desk and constantly burdened with heavy backpacks. Uncorrected postural issues, heavy school bags and poor lifestyle choices can all lead to spinal health problems as a child grows. Spinal health problems related to childhood often go unnoticed, as initial poor posture, back pain, “growing pains” and headaches can unfortunately develop and be an accepted part of everyday life.
School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important to their physical and mental development.
According to the Chiropractors Association of Australia (CAA), the peak body representing chiropractors, 90 per cent of school children have bad posture when carrying their bags and could experience unwanted spinal stress and damage as a result.
While 75 per cent of school kids are not wearing their school backpack’s properly and ignoring the ergonomic features in some backpacks which are designed to provide better support and comfort.
What’s more, many Aussie kids are exacerbating the problem by wearing their backpacks too low on their backs (33 per cent) or slinging them over one shoulder (20 per cent). These alarming findings emerged from a CAA ‘under cover’ observational study conducted by chiropractors on high traffic school commute routes in late 2011.
Putting too much stress on a child’s back at such an important stage of growth and development will result in serious spinal problems immediately and later on in life. Some of the problems caused by bad posture at an early age can include reduced mobility, possible early degeneration of bones and joints, increased vulnerability to injuries and unhealthy pressures on a child’s nervous system.
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 Chiropractors1
for a broad range of reasons. Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective, and can restore correct function and relieve symptoms associated with the carrying of heavy backpacks.
At MNMC we recommend these tips for carrying backpacks:
- Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10 per cent of a student's weight when packed.
- Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than good looks.
- Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized - no wider than the student's chest, with broad, padded shoulder straps.
- Use both shoulder straps - never sling the pack over one shoulder.
- Use waist straps attached - they are there for a good reason.
- Don't wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back.
- Don't overload the backpack - use school lockers and plan homework well in advance.
- Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight.
Dr Kate will be offering complimentary spinal health assessments during February to any client wishing to see how Chiropractic care can assist them and their families.
For further information on how chiropractic can assist with your health complaints and well-being please contact us at the clinic on 9686 2566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2004-2005). National Health Survey: Summary of Results. (No. 4364.0). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory