Sunday, August 18, 2019 | ePaper

Are heavy school bags really harmful for your kids?

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Weekend Plus Desk :
Is your child staggering under the weight of her school bag? But it has indeed become a common sight. Kids can be seen lugging heavy backpacks every morning, altering their walk and shoulders to handle the added pressure on their backs and shoulders.
According to Dr Garima Anandani, senior spine specialist and clinical director, QI Spine Clinic, weight of the school bag should be less than 10 per cent of the body weight of the child. Anything more than that can negatively affect a child's spine health.
Dr Anandani added, “Backpacks take a heavy toll on children. An overloaded or incorrectly worn backpack creates stress on the spine, which could cause a child to lean too far forward and experience distortion of the natural curve of the spine, rolling their shoulders and causing a more rounded upper back. Some students wear their bags on only one shoulder, and they might walk tilted to one side and suffer neck pain.”
Excess weight can cause spine, shoulder, neck and other musculoskeletal pains. The spine is at risk of injury.
School bags normally weigh anywhere between 1 kg to 10 kgs. In a cross-sectional study to understand the effects of the weight of schoolbags and musculoskeletal health problems in primary school students of a district in Bangladesh, they found a significant correlation between school bag weight and discomfort complained by students. 42 per cent patients (students) reported discomfort in shoulder region followed by 23.9 per cent reported in the neck.
Signs to watch out for
How do you know that your child is suffering from school bag related health complications? Watch out for consistent complains of neck pain around their shoulder straps. Tiredness in shoulders or upper back and even discomfort in sitting can be the side effects of carrying a heavy bag.
What can parents do
It is important that parents and students choose backpacks that are best for backs. It is important to pick bags that have two wide padded shoulder straps. It will help to distribute the weight evenly and not dig into the shoulders.
Dr Faruk shares, “The frame of the backpack should be in proportion to your child's frame with the straps resting in the middle of the shoulder. Straps should not be so wide that they slip off the shoulders or cut into the neck muscles.” Some bags even come with hip straps.
It is also extremely important that kids carry books according to their time table and do not carry extra books along. Also, the heaviest items should be placed against the back and distributed evenly. Parents should also choose Tiffin boxes and bottles that do not exceptionally add excess load to the already heavy bag.
However, ensure that you consult a spine specialist if pain persists for more than 4 to 5 weeks.

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