Backpack – Is It Causing Pain for Your Child?
We all remember carrying backpacks to school when we were kids. What we may not remember is how heavy they were and how we may have experienced back and neck pain while carrying it. Today we will discuss all you need to know about backpacks and its effects on your child’s spine.
Is Your Child’s Backpack Too Heavy?
Kids carry heavy loads back and forth to school daily on their backs. Depending on how small your kids are, a typical backpack filled with textbooks and other school essentials can easily reach 30% of your child’s weight. Soreness in the shoulder and neck is just the beginning of the list of problems that can arise from this. More seriously, it can lead to increased spinal curvature, compressed discs in the spine, and even irritation or damage to the nerves in the arms which can lead to disability in the future.
The recommended load that your child should be allowed to carry is between 10-15% of their body weight. Children have been reported to complain of significantly worse back pain and neck pain when carrying loads of more than 20% of their body weight.
What Kind of Bag Is Best?
We will discuss two of the most common bags that children use these days.
Sling bag – This is one of the more popular kind of bags that kids like to use because it looks ‘cooler’. Though a sling bag can be carried without many problems, mostly it is carried on one shoulder. The problem with carrying it on one shoulder is that it tends to cause one shoulder to be elevated to keep the bag from sliding down the shoulder. In the long run, this causes imbalance in the muscle, overuse, stiffness, and soreness in the shoulder and neck. The correct way to wear a sling bag is to carry it across the chest. This way, the bag is less likely to slide down the shoulder.
Backpack – Most physiotherapists will agree that the backpack is superior to the sling bag for a couple of reasons; they distribute the load evenly on both sides and they do not slip down the shoulder. However, as we all know, being ‘cool’ is of paramount importance to children. And some of them may just carry the backpack using one strap on one side. Doing so may lead to the same problems that the sling bag faces. So it is important that the bag is carried properly.
What Is the Proper Way to Carry a Backpack?
The general rule is a backpack that fits snugly will cause less pressure to the spine and shoulders and will help the child use better posture while wearing the backpack. The most crucial part to adjust is the length of the strap. Most of the time your child will leave the strap too long leaving a gap between the backpack and the body. This gap lengthens the lever arm that the backpack has on the body which makes the bag feel heavier, thus putting more stress on the spine. You need to ensure that the backpack is snugly position to the back. this makes the backpack feel much lighter. In addition, a backpack that has additional straps in the chest and abdomen area is even better as it keeps the bag firmer to the body. All of this means that the body will have to do less work.