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Back to School Backaches

Our school children are now into the full swing of the term. As parents, caregivers and teachers we need to be cautious and continually monitoring our children’s school bag. Primary school-aged children are at risk the most and by carrying a heavy load it becomes detrimental to their health and their growing bodies. The majority of school bags will contain a lunch box, water bottle, textbook/books, portable devices, maybe some sports gear it all starts to add up, so it comes as no surprise school bags can reach OVERLOAD quite quickly.

Why so important?

If the school bag is heavier than 20-30% of the child there is increased stress on growing muscles and spinal ligaments (which are not fully developed until 16 years old). If your child has to hunch over then this position reduces their lung volume – resulting in less air, shallow breathing and ultimately adoption of poor breathing mechanics.

What weight is ideal?

The “ideal load” is suggested within the range of 10-15% of child’s body weight. For example, a 20.1 kilograms (kg) child should carry no more than 2 kgs and a 42 kg child no more than 4.2kg.

What to look for?

Red shoulders from the shoulder straps Complaints – ‘my neck hurts’, ‘my back hurts’. Walking hunched over, looking up placing strain on the neck. Headaches.

How to manage it?

Evaluate your child’s pack Is it far too big for what is needed? Has it got wide padded and adjustable shoulder straps? Narrow straps can affect the nerves lying around the neck/shoulder area. A padded back and compartments so that heavy items can rest against the back. Has it got a hip/waist strap – hardly fashionable but shoulders are not designed to be loaded but hips are? Urge your child to utilize a locker (if possible). Have a peek into your child’s bag on a daily basis and suggest what could be left at home. Is your child to wearing the bag properly as per the picture?

If you are unsure or need help come, please come down and see the team at Hobsonville Chiropractic Centre or Top Notch Massage Therapy at 295 Hobsonville Rd, Hobsonville. -Angela Young

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