Easing the burden of returning to school.
The long summer holidays are over and it’s time to return to school. All across Melbourne, children will leave their houses with bulging backpacks and trudge to school like weary tortoises.
But the comparison is perhaps a little unfair. Unlike a child, the humble tortoise has evolved over millions of years to become an expert at carrying its permanent luggage. We doubt you’ll ever see one slip a solitary limb through its shell and saunter along the road pretending that’s the coolest and most effective way to carry its burden.
The Australian Osteopathic Association reported in 2014 that the average school backpack weighs 22 per cent of the child’s bodyweight and, in some cases, can be close to a third. To counter the weight and retain balance, it is common for children to lean forward. Unfortunately, this puts additional strain on the lower back and neck.
Between 18 and 24 per cent of children report suffering from back pain at least once a month. An Australian observational study(1) published in Australian Journal of Physiotherapy also found that neck pain was reported to be as high as back pain in adolescents.
Of course, there are plenty of possible causes—the business of growing up is, after all, a very demanding time for a child’s body. But whether it’s a sporting injury, postural—or even related to carrying a heavy backpack over one shoulder because it’s so much cooler to do so—if your son or daughter is complaining of back pain then bring them along to Northern Spinal & Sports Injury Clinic. We are experienced paediatric physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths; with specific tailored programs for your child.
Looking for some tips to ease your child’s back pain returning to school this year?
The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Paediatric Group Chair, Julianne Pegler recommends these following tips for the best school back pack(2):
- Choose a backpack with wide shoulder straps that sit well on the shoulders.
- Ensure waist and chest straps help transfer some of the load to the hips and pelvis.
- A padded back-support will allow the pack to fit ‘snugly’ on the back.
- Ensure the backpack fits the child; don’t buy a big pack to ‘grow’ into—the pack should not extend higher than the child’s shoulders when sitting.
- Be aware that moderately weighted backpacks are not detrimental to kids’ back health.
- Avoid swinging backpacks around.
So if you want to ease the burden on your child as they return to school, call Northern Spinal & Sports Injury Clinic on 03 9470 1010!