Back to School – Backpacks Rule
I doubt your kids or teenagers will have given much thought to their schoolbags other than whether it looks good and possibly if it is big enough for all their school stuff. They get used, abused and shoved into the corner of their bedrooms when not in use.
But… Are these schoolbags abusing them?
Unfortunately the answer is more often than not Yes!
Why? If a schoolbag isn’t used correctly it can lead to back injuries and other back related problems.
Every year our kids seem to be taking more and more into school with them and it’s easy to see that a backpack with multiple compartments are great for keeping them organised (at least for the first week). Backpacks are king for another reason – when used correctly its weight and that of its contents is evenly distributed across the body. The back and the abdominal muscles are the strongest muscles in the body and will support the backpack.
Backpacks that are overloaded or used incorrectly can lead to multiple issues
Our spines are made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by natural shock absorbers, the disks. When you put a heavy weight on your shoulders in the wrong way, the weight’s force can pull you backward. To compensate, you may bend forward at the hips or arch your back. This can cause your spine to compress unnaturally.
In addition, we often see people with rounded shoulders and a curve in their upper back. This is often caused by leaning forward too much when carrying a heavy backpack.
Another common issue comes from carrying heavy backpacks over one shoulder. Using them in this way or using a messenger style bag can lead to the person experiencing lower and upper back pain, strain on their shoulder and pain in their neck. This is due to them leaning to one side to compensate for the weight of the bag.
How to choose the right bag…
- Straps – when choosing a new bags make sure it has two padded shoulder straps. This will help distribute the weight better. The wider the better as thinner straps can dig in to the shoulders reducing blood circulation.
- Compartments – try to find a bag with multiple compartments. These help even out the weight in the bag and stops everything from just piling up at the bottom of a single compartment.
- Fill it correctly – always pack a backpack with the heaviest items closest to the back. Use the side pockets to distribute the weight more evenly and wear both straps over your shoulders. If it is really heavy try taking something out carrying it in your hands.
- Only carry what you need – plan your days and take out books and items that are not needed that day. Keeping the load as light as possible will put less pressure on the body.
If you adjust the weight and the way you carry your backpack but are still experiencing back pain or numbness and/or weakness in your arms or legs, speak to your practitioner or call the clinic to make book your initial consultation if you or your child have never been to see us. Our practitioners have a special interest in paediatric care. For more information on Back Pain and other health conditions click HERE
For the latest NHS information and advice regarding children returning to school during teh COVID-19 situation click HERE