With increase in demand for bag with more capacity for school kids, posture concerns due to the weight bearing are also on the rise.
Carrying heavy backpacks leads to increased strain on the muscles, which results in unusual posture and spine alignment is affected, this can lead to serious spinal deformities.
While kids may not exhibit immediate symptoms, the first indication is lower back pain. In the long run, they may develop body imbalances which may further lead to deterioration in the condition of the nervous system; this may make them highly susceptible to injuries.
Neglecting these aspects might lead to spinal deformity also known as ‘Kyphoscoliosis’ in the long run; it is described as an abnormal curvature of the spine.
In the recent past, the Maharashtra State had enforced a regulation that school going kids must not carry a load that exceeds 10% of their current body weight. This entails that a child weighing 60 kgs should not carry a load of more than 6 kgs.
If left ignored, there could be severe complications that may include:
- Lower back curvature
- Lumbar Asymmetry
- Disc compression
- Damage to shoulder tissues
- Inhibited mobility in the hands and finger agility
- Nerve damage
For parents, it is best to be informed of certain vulnerabilities and assist their child right, to prevent skeletal and muscular damage.
- Encourage your child to be more active and discourage them from sitting in an atypical position
- Visits to the doctor in cases of discomfort or pain
- Select a backpack that is appropriate for your child’s height, it should be lightweight but strong
- 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 2inches above the waist, evenly at the middle of the back
Schools should also lend support to the students and the teachers by regularly conducting back strengthening exercises or Yoga, to keep at bay or overcome Spine-related issues their pupils might be having.
The author is a Consultant Joint Replacement and Spine Surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan