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Protect your child’s back
As a practising osteopath and a parent, I know only too well the dilemma over choosing a school bag that is both suitable for carrying books and that children will find 'acceptable' to use with the ever increasing peer pressure.
Having watched children walking to and from school, frequently under the weight of a heavy school bag and treating an increasing number of children for neck, shoulder and back pain, I thought now was an ideal time to write this article before you buy your child their next school bag.
The reality is that children’s skeletons are still growing during their school years and those that carry more than 15% of their bodyweight are at risk of suffering backache and developing a bad posture which may predispose them to long-term chronic pain.
BackCare, the charity for healthier backs, claim that many children’s school bags are as much as 20-25% of their bodyweight. What has made this issue worse is the trend to wear backpacks on one shoulder as this creates a greater strain on the spine.
Choosing a bag
Firstly, choose a bag that is light (but strong) and is the right shape and length for your child’s back. Backpacks are best as they have two shoulder straps and the preference is for these straps to be wide, padded and adjustable. A backpack with hip straps is even better as it offers extra support for your child’s back. Do not buy a bag that is any bigger than necessary as the tendency is to fill a bag to full capacity. Compared to 10 years ago, overloaded school bags are now up to double the size!
Tips on avoiding back pain
If you need help choosing a new school bag, I would suggest you start by looking at the only backpack that is officially endorsed by BackCare. They can be ordered direct on the link below, available in both junior and senior sizes. www.backcaretrading.org.uk – see under Bags. So please join me in supporting the Schoolbag Campaign.