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Aussie kids back to school

As millions of kids get ready to go back to school, many will pull out old backpacks or purchase new ones. While the books, homework assignments, lunches, and other school gear those bags carry may be important for success in school, some experts point to backpack use as the leading cause of a growing trend in back pain among youngsters. In fact, a recent study conducted in Italy found that nearly 60 percent of children carrying heavy backpacks experienced back pain as a result.

Whether you are looking out for your child’s welfare or you use a backpack yourself, here are some steps recommended by Dr. Bret Hansell of Southern Chirorpactic Caringbah to lighten the load.

Tips for purchasing a new pack:

  • Be selective. Look for ergonomically designed packs that distribute weight evenly along the shoulders and spine. Ask Dr Hansell  for suggestions, and have him or her look at the fit of a pack you have purchased.
  • Go small. The smaller the pack, the less likely your child is to overload it with books and other materials. Look for packs that feature special compartments for different types of items— such as pencils, calculators, books, or folders.
  • Select wide, padded straps. Backpacks that are designed with broader straps and ample padding are much more comfortable— and healthier.

How to use a backpack wisely:

  • Lighten up. Aim for a backpack weight of no more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. That means if your child weighs 40 kilos, her pack shouldn’t exceed 4 kilos. If your child is required to carry weight above that 10 percent, talk to your child’s teacher about ways to reduce the load.
  • Position correctly. A properly adjusted backpack will create less stress on the back. Make sure the pack doesn’t hang too low (ten or more below the waist) which can strain the back.
  • Two is better than one. Educate your child about the importance of wearing both shoulder straps, which will distribute weight more evenly.

If you or your child experience tingling or numbness in the hands, or discomfort in the back or neck after wearing a backpack, discontinue use and seek our advice.