Chiropractic Advice To Prevent Back Pain In Children

Heavy School Bags Are Bad For Children

In our chiropractic clinics we see quite a few children with back and neck problems relating to carrying heavy school bags.

When your child is growing their posture is very important.

ISIS Chiropractic Milton Keynes and Northampton. We have consulting rooms available for rent in our clinics at Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Parents often tell their children to ‘sit up straight’ or to ‘stop slouching’. These pieces of advice are valuable to aid a child in learning exactly what a good posture is. (You can read more about posture here!

However, one thing that can sometimes be overlooked is the strain caused on childrens joints and muscles from their school bags.

The type of shoes they ware can also be important.

According to new research carried out by the British Chiropractic Association, a third of parents say that their child has suffered from back or neck pain in the past.

Whilst back pain can be caused by a number of different factors, unsuitable school bags are a common trigger.

Going to school often means carrying school books, lunch boxes, stationery and PE kits on a daily basis which collectively can result in a very heavy school bag. Sometimes the weight of the contents in the school bag cannot be altered. However, the type of bag used to carry these items can.

It has long been known that rucksacks or backpacks are the best type of bag to use because they distribute weight more equally and symmetrically over the body.

Despite this knowledge, according to the research by the British Chiropractic Association, nearly one third of children carry a single strapped bag which can cause problems due to the weight being loaded to just one shoulder.

With a single strap bag, we often lean to one side and hitch the shoulder up. This kind of stress on a child’s body can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

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Important Points With Regards To School Bags

Below are some important points to consider with regards to school bags:

  • The position of the rucksack on the back is very important. It should sit close to the body with the weight evenly distributed on both shoulders.
  • A rucksack carried on one shoulder is almost as bad as a single strap bag.
  • The straps should be wide so that they do not dig into the shoulders.
  • Check the contents of your child's school bag regularly. If they have a weekly school timetable compare this to the contents of their bag so that excess books can be removed.
  • As a rule of thumb, a child should not be carrying more than 10% of their own body weight. For example, a child of 40kg should not carry more than 4kg in their bag!
  • Some bags can be heavy even without items in them. Therefore, when choosing a bag it is important to make sure that it is not too heavy to begin with and not too big.
  • Some children will still resist the use of a rucksack. For them the second best option is to wear a single strap bag across the body and alternate throughout the day between the left and right shoulder. Pick a bag with a good strap!
  • Appropriate footwear is also important to consider. Soft-soled shoes that are supportive and have a good grip will make it easier for children to carry a school bag. It might also be worth having the foot posture assessed.

Are Backpacks The Answer?

It is fair to say that for some image conscious children and teenagers a rucksack may not be seen as the ‘in thing’.

The good news is that rucksacks have developed leaps and bounds in the last few years and there should be a style to suit everyone, including adults who should lead by example.

  • A backpack should be carried over both shoulders for even weight distribution.
  • It should have wide straps; narrow straps can interfere with nerves and circulation.
  • A backpack with a waist belt provides better support.
  • It should rest close to the body with a padded back to stop sharp items digging into the back.
  • The backpack should be made of a lightweight material.
  • Empty the bag regularly to remove unnecessary items such as laptops and PE kits on the days that they are not needed.
  • The backpack should be lifted properly with knees bent and with both hands.

In Summary

Keep children active! The more active that they are, the stronger their bones and muscles become and the less aches and pains they will potentially get from carrying heavy bags.

It is, of course, important to do the right type of exercise! Look at this 3-minute-a-day exercise programme for children to help their posture and core strength!

Remember, the recommended maximum weight children should carry is 10% of their body weight! Carrying bags that are too heavy at a young age can give life-long back and neck problems.

Read more about how chiropractic can help your child here!

You can contact the ISIS Chiropractic Centres here for more information and help!

For enquiries please call:

Chiropractic Care

Milton Keynes: 01908 307075
Northampton: 01604 460200
Aylesbury: 01296 489231

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