Friday 9 December 2016

Backpacks to aid better posture

Published 25/08/2015 | 02:30

Backpacks are much safer than over-the-shoulder bags
Backpacks are much safer than over-the-shoulder bags

It's the latest fashion trend in school bags - but children who wear their bags over the shoulder may be putting themselves at needless risk.

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The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists said over-the-shoulder bag is a worrying trend and it can lead to poor posture and significant discomfort.

Schoolbags generally can cause pain, discomfort and poor posture.

But these can be minimised by using the right type of schoolbag, reviewing the contents and knowing how to lift and carry the bag.

Sara Dockrell, a chartered physiotherapist advises:

• buy a lightweight backpack style bag (above) with adjustable padded shoulder straps to fit the size of the child's back. A bag that is too big for the child, or that has not been adjusted to fit correctly, will hit against the child's bottom as he/she walks. The bag will move out of step with the child's normal gait pattern, this can result in a feeling of discomfort and greater feeling of effort;

• look also for a padded back and a waist strap if possible - a waist strap distributes weight and a padded back protects the back;

• children should put the heaviest items close to their backs as this means less strain on the spine;

• children should wear the bag on their back with the straps on both shoulders. Carrying the bag on the back requires less effort and encourages better posture than carrying over one shoulder, which causes 'shoulder shrug' on the side of carriage and 'side bending' to the opposite side;

• carry only what they have to - children should think ahead and only carry books and other items they require. If there is a locker available in school, they should make good use of it;

• carry books only when they have to - if kids are standing around or waiting for a bus, leave the school bag on the floor whilst waiting;

• avoid swinging the school bag around and lifting it on the back. This applies a combination of rotation and side bending with force to the spine. It is better to place the bag on a surface and then with your back to the bag, put your arms through the straps. Alternatively, another person could help by holding the bag while the child puts their arms through the straps;

• where possible, involve your school, maybe encourage better timetabling of classes to minimise need for all books to be brought to school every day.

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