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17 January 2008

Back to School: Tips for you child's school bag

I have written an small piece in Januarys issue of Young Parents which is a leading publication in Singapore on child rearing. We need to start teaching our children on the importance of back care early to prevent problems that they may face in demanding working situations later in life.
Enjoy the read:

Young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations, and the improper use of backpacks is a contributing factor. For example, a heavy bag that’s slung over one shoulder can, over the course of schooling cause chronic back problems that linger into adulthood. Risks include muscle strain, distortion of the natural curve of the spine and rounding of the shoulders.

By following a few simple tips, Parents can reduce the risk in many ways:
• Plan ahead. Don’t let kids carry lots of equipment at the same time, like sports gear, musical instruments or art materials.
• The proper maximum weight for loaded backpacks should not exceed 10% of the child’s body weight. In cases where loads greater than this, a trolley maybe used.
• Check the position of the school bag. It should be positioned with its bottom just along the hip level and the top of the bag should be slightly above the shoulders.
• It maybe 'cool' for kids to have a bag positioned too low on the child's back or sling over one shoulder, but teaching them the consequence of back pain is not.
• Teach the child to adjust the shoulder straps to get the bag in the correct position. Do this by bending forward and pulling the lower straps.
• The bag must always be carried on both shoulders. This distributes the load of the bag evenly, to protect the child's back and spine.

With these simple steps your child’s spinal health will be protected for not only their schooling years but also in future careers.

Dr Kevin Lau is a Chiropractor and Nutritionist who educates children about the importance of spinal health and posture through a “Straighten Up Program’ specially designed for kids using exercises, postural retraining and physical therapy. Young Parents readers get a free spinal check till the end of March 2008. For more information call 68844123 or check out

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