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17 October 2011, 06:00
Children are causing long-term damage to their backs by carrying heavy school bags - that's the message of this year's Back Care Awareness week.
Heavy bags can put pressure on the discs between the vertebrae which can cause long term back pain in small and still-developing bodies and children can suffer muscular pain, headaches, tingling and numbness in the arms and legs and even mobility problems.
Osteopath, Sorrel Pindar, from the Bedford Integrative Health Centre is a parent of two children and a member of the British Osteopathic Association. She has treated patients suffering long-term damage caused by carrying excessive loads, and says ''Children should never carry more than about 15% of their own body weight. Parents can help by packing their children's rucjsacks and making sure that the heavier items are nearer to the child's back. Heavier items on the outside of the bag tend to throw the child's centre of gravity out of balance, which leads to bad posture and increases the chances of them straining their back.''
Other suggestions include:
Use a backpack rather than a one-shoulder bag.
Buy a sturdy and well-designed bag with wide padded shoulder straps that can be adjusted as the child grows.
Check your child's posture with the bag on. If your child's leaning forward or slouching, check if the bag is too heavy or if it has been packed correctly.
Make sure your child's only carrying the things for that day - remove any unnecessary books and equipment.
Urge your child's school to provide lockers.
For information on Osteopathy click here