Heavy School Bags and Back Pain in Children
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As children all over the UK prepare to start a new school year parents are being warned of the dangers of heavy bags and the damage they can cause to children’s spines causing back pain.
The warning comes following a new study in Wales which looked at why back pain in children is on the increase.
Previous studies have shown that over half the children have school bags exceeding 10% of their body weight. Almost half of all children of secondary school age experience occasional backache and that back pain during adolescence can mean youngsters are four times more likely to suffer the condition as adults.
A study carried out by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) in 2008 found that that the daily school routine can take its toll, with 72% of the nation’s school children carrying around heavy books and sports equipment on their backs for much of the day. The study also found that 45% of children had already suffered some kind of back pain by the time they were 11.
As well as carrying heavy schoolbags, ill-fitting classroom furniture combined with sedentary lifestyles and poor posture means many adolescents could be exposing themselves to back trouble. Alongside this increased time using computers and computer games have reduced physical activity and linked with poor diet have become an accepted way of life. These habits can encourage poor posture, reduced muscle tone and possible weight gain and mean that joints and muscles are not worked through their full range which can make it more difficult for the body to cope with day to day tasks.
Backache affects up to 95% of the population at some stage and costs the economy around £10bn a year in lost productivity and disability or sickness benefits.
Here are some simple tips for parents to help their children reduce the chance of back pain:
* One strap or two – make sure you offer advice as to the type of bag they choose. A rucksack is the best option as long as it is carried over both shoulders. Single strap bags cause the weight to go through one side of the body only which could lead to neck and back pain. On rucksacks and the straps are adjusted so that the bag is held close to the back and weight is evenly distributed. The top of the rucksack should sit high at the child’s shoulders.
* Take what you need – make sure your child is not carrying any unnecessary excess weight. Check that all the items in their bags are essential, taking the right books for that day only.
* Shoes – Make sure your child has good footwear; soft-soled shoes that are supportive and have a good grip will make it easier for them to carry a heavy school bag
* Exercise – lack of exercise is your child’s worst enemy. Try and find activities for them that they enjoy and that they want to do regularly. Encouraging your child to take regular exercise will aid in their fitness and your child will be less likely they are to injure themselves.
* Increase mobility – Staying in one position for long periods is bad for your spine. Limit your child to sitting for no more than 30-40 minutes on the computer or watching TV, before they get up and do something else for a while
* Computers – when using a PC or a computer console make sure that your child is sitting comfortably and their spine is supported. They may not realise that the position they are sitting in is detrimental to them if they are being distracted by the games or sitting for long periods.
If you require any more information or advice regarding this topic or would like to bring your child in for a free spinal screen please call Herts- Beds- Chiropractic on 0845 108 8533