What You Need To Know To Save Your Child's Back From Their School Bag

With the school year starting up again, one thing to consider when it comes to your child’s spinal health is how they’re using their school backpack.

With the amount of equipment children are expected to carry these days, it is very easy to overload their developing spines and set them up for ongoing issues such as lower back pain, neck pain and headaches.

To help combat that, here are a few hints to help protect their growing bodies:

  • Make sure that they always wear their bags on both shoulders and that the straps are firmly done up. The top of their backpack should sit flat against their upper back to prevent the weight of the bag dragging them backward
  • Limit the weight in their backpack as much as possible. A good guide is to not exceed 10% for your child’s body weight. This can be difficult in early high school especially if they’re expected to carry laptops or tablets to and from school, so be as selective as possible to lighten the load
  • Pack the backpack in a way that distributes the weight comfortably. The best rule to follow when it comes to this point is to pack the largest and heaviest pieces ie: laptops and heavy textbooks, closest to the spine. This will help spread the weight evenly across the shoulders and make it more comfortable to carry heavier loads.
  • Use the waist strap if their backpack has one. This point is especially important for kids who need to carry their backpack for more than a few minutes at a time ie: those who walk to and from school or to their bus, or for kids who have no choice but to carry a heavier backpack than advised. Using the waist strap allows the bulk of the weight to be carried on the hips, taking the strain away from the shoulders, allowing them to carry a heavy backpack for much longer without discomfort

The last thing to remember when it comes to the young spine is that it is incredibly resilient. Now while this is a good thing, it does present us with a slight dilemma. The problems developing in your child’s spine are often there for weeks or months before there are any obvious symptoms.

I recommend to my clients to bring their kids in for a spinal check in the first few weeks of each term. This is the time where most problems start to develop as the body gets used to carrying a backpack regularly again and it allows us to make sure their spines are moving freely and are capable of carrying these loads without damaging their spines

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