School has different challenges for our kids and teens. So, instead of chilling in bed they have to get up early in the morning and spend the morning and often the afternoon in the classroom, mainly in a sitting position. At home, they have to do their homework and prepare for exams. Often, the free time remaining is spent with TV, computer and smartphone instead with exercise and sport. But, the resulting lack of movement often has consequences. Because, even kids in elementary school may suffer under back pain. Besides overweight and increased media consumption, lack of exercise is one of the main reasons for back pain of kids and teens.
But, back pains might also arise due to overload. Often, carrying a school bag too heavy is a huge additional strain for the spine. This, too, might lead to tensions and back pain and even to malpositions. Carrying a heavy and often overloaded school bag needs a strong back. Therefore, it is important to care for sufficient time off spent with sports and movement. Besides physical education, there are different types of sports like football, swimming, climbing, or romping outdoors that are fun and strengthen the core muscles and coordination.
Besides strengthening the back, you also should pay attention to the school bag itself, too. Here, not only the right choice is important but also correct packing and the weight of the school bag.
Requirements of a school bag
The following characteristics relieve the spine and enable an even pressure distribution:
- sufficient stability
- back part ergonomically formed and with breathable padding
- wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps
A simple trick further relieves the back: place heavy items close to the back and not in the front compartment of the school bag.
First signs of overload
Watch your child when it is carrying the school bag. Is your child struggling with getting the bag on the back, is it strongly leaning forward or backward or does it take an unnatural posture when carrying the school bag? These might be signs for an overload.
Avoid overload with proper weight
Since children are still growing they are more prone to overload. Therefore, the empty weight of the school bag – ideally not more than 1.2 kg – and especially the weight of the load is important. After packing the school bag, the weight should not exceed 10 to 12 % of the child’s own weight. Naturally, the load-bearing capacity varies individually – depending on the physical fitness, sportiness, coordination and the sense of balance of the child.
Correct packing has to be learned
Especially with young children it is advisable that parents take time in the evening before to pack the school bag together with their child. Check, whether all things needed and no redundant things are in the bag. This avoids unnecessary weight and saves your child from lugging a heavy school bag. Also, care for the proper weight distribution. As mentioned before, heavy items belong into the back of the bag. The front area may contain lighter items like a pencil case, for example.
Correct carrying technique
Besides correct packing, the carrying technique is important for the back, too. The school bag should be positioned close to the body, with the top edge not over the shoulders. The correct height setting of the shoulder straps avoids a position too high or too low. Are the shoulder straps too long, the school bag slips backwards and strains the abdominal muscles. Are the shoulder straps too short, the muscles in the back become strained. As a consequence, pains in the back and malpositions might arise.
Image Source: @deathtothestockphoto
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