Back to school: Watch the weight of your child’s backpack!

A consultant joint replacement and spine surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan - Dr Raghavendra KS, shares how to reduce the burden of your child’s backpack and to keep them healthy

Back to school: Watch the weight of your child’s backpack!

The holidays are now over, and as the new academic year commences, parents must prepare as much as their children for a long year ahead. The preparation includes readjusting schedules, restructuring meal times, homework schedules, television and bedtime routines, and on the top of the list is keeping your child healthy.

While focusing on the needs of your child, we often tend to miss out the nitty-gritty of everyday school life. School can be mentally taxing on a child, from grades to extracurricular activities, there are multiple stressors.

We somehow turn a blind eye to the physical abilities of our children burdened by the load of the backpack, which is used to carry school essentials.

Let’s take a few cautious steps to avoid your child’s backpack from being too heavy.

Avoiding injuries by choosing the right backpack:

  • Select a backpack which is appropriate for your child’s height
  • It should be lightweight, but strong.
  • Double-padded shoulder straps are a must.
  • The well-padded back is a must, to protect your child from sharp objects.
  • Waist strap divides the weight equally, also keeps the bag stable.
  • A rolling backpack is also a good option.
  • Neglecting these aspects might lead to spinal deformity (Kyphoscoliosis) in the long run.

Teach your child to wear a backpack right and safe:

The schoolbag should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s body weight.

Carrying the schoolbag on a single shoulder should be avoided.

Make sure that your child uses both padded straps, and secures the waist belt; this promotes good posture.

Ensure the bag is placed at least 2 inches above the waist, evenly at the middle of the back.

Teach your child to bend using both knees, and not at their waist while lifting the bag.

Only carry what is needed; teach your child to pack light.

Seek medical attention immediately, if children complain in spite of taking these precautions, parents or teachers should not force them to carry the bag.

Schools should regularly conduct the back strengthening exercises or yoga to overcome spine-related issues.

Using a heavy schoolbag can cause severe strain on your child’s back, and they may hurt themselves.

Severe head and neck pain are caused due to forward lean while carrying a heavy load. Which can levy external pressure on your child’s shoulder muscles, where the joints get tightened, further altering the body’s biomechanics.

By leaning forward, your child can experience the pain in the back and hip while carrying the weight of the schoolbag, which can cause the back to bend, leading to slouching.

If your child is experiencing frequent back pain, seek help from a posture expert. Also, speak to school authorities about ways to lighten the load.