Sunday, 15 September 2013


It’s that time of year again when children go back to school and all those lovely weeks of relaxation are forgotten almost instantly.

While at school children are learning large amounts of information, but this comes with a price – a giant textbook, a musical instrument, a laptop. All of these essential school items needing to be carried to and from school each day soon add up to a rather heavy load.
A backpack is a practical way to carry several items although you need to take care not to overload. It has been suggested that the maximum recommended weight for any child to carry in a backpack is 15% of their body weight.

Our body will compensate for any load applied to it over an extended period of time – but an overloaded backpack may lead to:
       Leaning forward to change centre of gravity in order to bear the heavy weight – leading to a reduction in  balance
    Rounding shoulders to try and cope with the weight exerted on them 
               Distortion of the natural curves in the back – which can lead to irritation of joints in the spine and ribcage and strain on muscles

Carrying a backpack on one shoulder or any other type of one shoulder bag can lead to a change in posture as the body tries to even out the weight distribution, the body (and spine) lean to the opposite side of the load – adding extra strain to the mid back, ribs and lower back on one side more than the other, this imbalance in muscles can cause short term back pain.

How to Choose Your Backpack:

    Shoulder straps – straps should be wide and padded – this prevents digging in and discomfort in the shoulder muscles and a more even weight distribution. They should also be easily adjustable so that the bag can be fitted optimally at each wear.
     Waist strap – this can help distribute some of the weight of the backpack more evenly from the shoulders and back to the pelvis.
      Contoured back – this can help the backpack sit better over the curves of the spine and can also allow airflow, helping keep the back cool
      Lightweight material – the lighter the backpack empty the less chance of weight overload
     Internal compartments and straps – this helps an even distribution of load and prevents items from shifting around in transit

Tips on Packing Your Backpack

   Pack heavier items first so that they are lowest and closest to the body
     Evenly distribute the load by filling compartments
     Make sure sharp or bulky items don’t poke into the back
     Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack is snug to the body and carried high – don’t carry the backpack low and loose.
    If you need to lean forward when carrying the backpack it is likely too heavy.

All of this information can relate to adults carrying heavy items on their daily commute to work as well – this advice is not just for school children.

If your child has been complaining of back pain or you are concerned about their posture please give us a call on 020 8563 2608 and book your child in for a free back to school back check with Chiropractor Hazel Dillon, these are being held after school on Tuesday 22nd and  Wednesday 23rd October between 4.30 and 6.30 pm, slots are fifteen minutes long. 

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at the Octagon Clinic


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