Are you aware of what is in your child’s school bag, how much it weighs, or how that weight is affecting their neck, shoulders, back and spine? Well as a parent it is something you should be aware of. Recent studies show that kids are carrying excessive loads to and from school, and the consequences of this weight on their structural development.

For example, a 2003 study in The Spine Journal found a significant correlation between the incidence of lower back pain among schoolchildren (ages 12-18) and both the weight of their school bags / backpacks and the amount of time these were used. Some of the school bags were extremely heavy; 18.9 percent of the students surveyed carried school bags / backpacks that weighed more than 20 percent of the student’s body weight. A further study, published in the same journal a year earlier, four of five children said their “bags” were heavy, and two-thirds said they felt fatigue when carrying theirs. The study also showed that lifetime prevalence of low back pain was related to the amount of time children carried backpacks on their shoulders. Not very good news, is it? So, what can you do as a parent to help your child in this regard? Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of their body weight.
  • Also ensure that it doesn’t hang more than 10 cms below their waistline.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. The straps should be adjustable so the school bag can be easily fitted to your child’s body.

Improper school bag or backpack use is an important but often-overlooked cause of back pain. Your Chiropractor can evaluate your child’s school bag and provide additional suggestions on how to ensure your child goes to and from school every day without putting their spine at risk.

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