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Healthy Back to School

Backpacks and going back to school

The children are going back to school and all those lovely weeks of relaxation are forgotten almost instantly.

While at school children are learning large amounts of information, but this comes with a price – a giant textbook, a musical instrument, a laptop. All of these essential school items needing to be carried to and from school each day soon add up to a rather heavy load.

A backpack is a practical way to carry several items, although take care not to overload. It has been suggested that the maximum recommended weight for any child to carry is 15% of their body weight.

The body will compensate for any load applied to it over an extended period of time – but an overloaded backpack may lead to:

  • Leaning forward to change centre of gravity in order to bear the heavy weight – leading to a reduction in balance.
  • Rounding shoulders to try and cope with the weight exerted on them.
  • Distortion of the natural curves in the back – which can lead to irritation of joints in the spine and rib-cage and strain on muscles.

Carrying a bag on one shoulder can lead to a change in posture as the body tries to even out the weight distribution; the body (and spine) lean to the opposite side of the load – adding extra strain to the mid back, ribs and lower back on one side more than the other, this imbalance in muscles can cause short term back pain.

How to choose your backpack:
  • Shoulder straps – straps should be wide and padded; this prevents digging in and discomfort in the shoulder muscles and a more even weight distribution. They should also be easily adjustable so that the bag can be fitted optimally at each wear.
  • Waist strap – this can help distribute some of the weight of the backpack more evenly from the shoulders and back to the pelvis.
  • Contoured back – this can help the backpack sit better over the curves of the spine and can also allow airflow, keeping the back cool.
  • Lightweight material – the lighter the backpack when empty the less chance of weight overload.
  • Internal compartments and straps – this helps an even distribution of load and prevents items from shifting around in transit.
Packing your backpack
  • Pack heavier items first so that they are lowest and closest to the body.
  • Evenly distribute the load by filling compartments.
  • Make sure sharp or bulky items don’t poke into your back.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack is snug to your body and carried high – don’t carry the backpack low and loose.
  • If you need to lean forward when carrying the backpack it is likely too heavy.

All of this information also relates to adults carrying heavy bags on their daily commute to work as well – this advice is not just for school children.

If your child has been complaining of back pain or you are concerned about their posture please give us a call on 07582 907702 to book a consultation.

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