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Take The Pain Out Of Returning To School

New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association
Media release
2 February 2009

Take The Pain Out Of Returning To School

Parents are being advised to shop wisely for school bags as the new school year approaches.

“Backpacks are best, but make sure they’re not too big or too heavy,” says Dr Simon Kelly, a spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association.

Carrying heavy bags can cause chronic shoulder, neck and back pain, even in young children.

“Most kids are carrying too much weight in their backpacks. In fact, with large textbooks, sports gear and laptops all in the one bag, the weight kids are carrying often exceeds recommendations for adult weight bearing in the workplace.”

Dr Kelly says children need to learn how to pack their bags, lift and wear them properly.

“We recommend parents invest in a good quality, ergonomic backpack with wide shoulder straps. The bag should be no longer than the wearer’s torso – from the base of the neck to the hips.”

Dr Kelly advises parents to keep an eye on their children’s posture when wearing their backpacks.

“If they’re leaning forward, the bag is too heavy, poorly fitted or badly packed. Make sure heavier items are at the bottom of the bag, closer to the child’s centre of gravity.”

Limiting loads to less than 15 percent of the child’s body weight can help prevent back pain and buying the right size bag is important.

“Don’t buy a small child a big bag hoping they’ll grow into it. They will always try and fit as much in there as they can.

“Make sure they carry their backpacks on both shoulders to spread the load and always check that the bag you’re buying meets their approval. If it’s not cool, they won’t wear it!”

10 Golden rules for backpacks
 Buy backpacks with wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Padded straps help absorb the load while narrow straps can dig painfully into shoulders.


2. Look for a backpack with “S” shaped shoulder straps. These will ergonomically contour to a child’s body.


3. Choose a backpack with a moulded frame and/or adjustable hip strap so the weight of the full backpack will rest on the child’s pelvis rather than their shoulders or spines.


4. Be sure the backpack is the right size. It should not be wider or longer than your child's torso, (i.e. from the bony bump at the base of the neck down to the top of the hips.)


5. Pack heavy items so they are closest to the child’s back and make sure they can’t move around. It is important to be balanced in the natural centre of gravity.


6. Make sure the child understands that carrying a backpack over one shoulder will cause back pain and possible injury.


7. Consider the weight of the backpack when empty. Canvas bags are lighter than leather.


8. Suggest to children that they use lockers to store unneeded books and sports equipment.


9. Don’t try to save money by buying the biggest pack ‘to last through college’ – buy one that is appropriate to the child’s size, and one they approve of.


10. Chiropractic care can help. If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call your chiropractor (visit www.chiropractic.org.nz for a list of NZCA members). They are licensed and trained to diagnose, treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. They can also prescribe exercises to strengthen muscles and advise on posture.


The chiropractic profession in both Australia and New Zealand has been so concerned about the availability of suitable backpacks that both have endorsed Chiropak Schoolbags made by Spartan Bags. The bags, which were developed at the Macquarie University’s Department of Health and Chiropractic, are ergonomically designed and reduce muscle fatigue and stress on the spine.

They have an internal spine which can be adjusted to mould to the carrier's back, contoured adjustable shoulder and chest straps, waist straps with hip pads, split compartments and compression straps to centre the contents of the pack and extra padding for comfort.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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