Friday, August 13, 2004

School bags can hurt your (child's) back!

In India school time invariably means huge school bags (back packs) stuffed with heavy books. In spite of various recommendations from time to time no steps have been taken to reduce this back-breaking load for children.
Here are a few tips to prevent back pain due to heavy school bags

  • Because narrow straps can dig into shoulders, choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Make sure that only books that are needed are carried, ask the child to prepare the bag according to next day’s time-table at night…too often in a hurry in the morning the child carries all the books resulting in a heavier bag.
  • Parents can minimize the risk of injury by making sure that children do not over-pack their backpacks. A child should never carry a pack that weighs more than 10 percent to 20 percent of his or her weight.
  • Children should be taught always to use both shoulder straps. Using only a single strap can strain muscles and may increase curvature of the spine
  • Another recommendation is to use all compartments of the backpack. Place the heaviest materials nearest to the center of the pack.
  • Use a small school bag, this will prevent a child from cramming it with useless items
  • Periodically remind your child to clean out trash and remove old papers and homework.
These tips are based on the latest American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations as published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, August 2004


Anonymous said...

One factor is also the weight of the empty bag itself. Very often a padded kind of bag will weigh much more than a regular bag even when empty! Also what about water bottles, doc?

Anonymous said...

Water bottles are a tricky issue since in the US the water is taken from the tap, hence I do nto think American Acasemy of Peditrics needs to issue any guidleines for the same.
In the Indian context I feel that wide strapped bottles made of light unbreakeable material may be fcarried weighing less than a kilo preferably ( less than a litre of water) These may be re-filled during the interval if possible