Monthly Archives: January 2014


School a ‘pain in the back’

The new school year means back to carrying around heavy backpacks Uncorrected postural issues, heavy school bags and poor lifestyle choices can all lead to spinal health problems as a child grows. Spinal health problems related to childhood often go unnoticed, as initial poor posture, back pain and “growing pains” can unfortunately develop into an accepted part of everyday life. Many of the current bags children are using may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even distribution across the back, they can place unhealthy stress on a child’s spine. School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important to their physical and mental development. According to the Chiropractors Association of Australia (CAA), the peak body representing chiropractors, 90 per cent of school children have bad posture when carrying their bags and could experience unwanted spinal stress and damage as a result. While 75 per cent are not wearing their school backpack’s properly and ignoring the ergonomic features in some backpacks which are designed to provide better support and comfort. What’s more, many Aussie kids are exacerbating the problem by wearing their backpacks too low on their backs (33 per cent) or slinging them over one shoulder (20 per cent). These alarming findings emerged from a CAA ‘under cover’ observational study conducted by chiropractors on high-traffic school commute routes in late 2011. CAA Spokesperson Dr Billy Chow (Chiropractor) said these results are a major concern for the health of our schoolchildren. “Despite the increased use of technology in schools to assist learning, schoolchildren are still overloading their backpacks with textbooks, sports and other gear or simply not wearing them in the correct way,” he said. “Putting too much stress on a child’s back at such an important stage of growth and development will result in serious spinal problems immediately and later on in life.” Some of the problems caused by bad posture at an early age include reduced mobility, possible early degeneration of bones and joints, increased vulnerability to injuries and unhealthy pressures on a child’s nervous system. Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective, and can restore correct function and relieve pain symptoms associated with the carrying of heavy backpacks. The CAA and has provided these tips for carrying backpacks: Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10 per cent of a student's weight whenpacked. Put comfort and fit [...]

School can be a pain in the back!

As school bags are dusted off in readiness for the 2014 school year, the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia NT (CAANT) would like to take time this month to warn parents and students about the long term impact of poorly fitted or over loaded backpacks and school bags. As our children grow and have to carry more, there is mounting evidence that shows how much stress, heavy school bags can place on growing spines1.  This repetitive stress can lead to acute and longer spinal related complaints, and the fact is, lugging an overloaded school bag to and from school can have health implications to our children. According to an international study1, daily backpack carrying is a frequent cause of discomfort for school children. School backpacks were felt to be “heavy” by 79.1% of children, to cause fatigue by 65.7% and to cause back pain by 46.1%. My usual advice to minimise the risk, is that students should limit the weight they carry in a school backpack to no more than 15 per cent of their body weight. In the real world that’s around 6-7.5 kilos for a 40-50kg student. This may seem like a difficult prospect, as the weight of a school bag quickly adds up when you throw in a few text books, a pencil case, a lunch box and a water bottle. However lifting a bag that is too heavy can cause immediate strain on the spine and the longer a child carries that load, the more severe the damage can become. Additionally the problem can also be compounded further by factors outside of parental control, like poor posture and the “fashion factor‟, which dictates the latest trendy way for carrying a bag, which is never in line with the inbuilt ergonomic features. However a little extra parental thought on how to trim some weight in your child’s school bag will go a long way in reducing this impact. Even if you’re considering a wheeled trolley bag, new research comparing backpack and trolley usage amongst six to eight year olds found that the trolley group was characterised by spinal rotation, which could add extra stress to growing backs. Not to mention the fact that students may have to pull the bag over rough ground or grassy areas as well as lift it up stairs and on and off public transport. School is a challenging time for our children, so [...]