How to Help Prevent Back Pain in Students
In preparation for the start of school, most department stores, vendors and book stores put out a
variety of back-to-school items. We see a variety of khaki and specialty uniforms on the racks,
pencils, pens, rulers, geometry sets, shoes, uniforms, books and school bags.
There are specific dos and don'ts for everything relating to back-to-school purchases, including
what types of school bags to buy. Should you buy a rolling bag, a single-strap messenger bag,
a tote bag, or a backpack/knapsack?
Most persons think that a rolling bag is best because they believe that the child will not have to lift
it, but in my opinion, it might be the worst. Unlike an airport that has escalators and elevators, a
school usually has neither. A rolling bag is designed to be pulled along, not lifted for any distance.
Anyone who has had to use a staircase, walk on rough terrain or walk in wet conditions while
carrying a rolling bag can tell you how very difficult it is. To make matters worse, rolling bags
are also usually the heaviest of the various types of bags.
Before you purchase this type of bag for your child, you must first know the school's terrain and whether they will have to climb stairs to get to or from classes. Ask yourself if your child might have to take public transportation or be exposed to inclement weather.
A tote bag is very popular among high-school and college-age girls. They can have a very large carrying capacity which makes it easy to be overloaded. They have the advantage that their contents are easily accessible.
A messenger bag is a single-strap bag that is very popular among bike messengers and bearers. The advantage of this type of bag is that it allows the wearer to swing the bag behind them when riding and then very easily switch it back in front of them in order to retrieve its contents. The problem with messenger or tote bags is that all the weight of the bag is concentrated onto the top of one shoulder. The force of the strap may cut off circulation to the supraspinatus muscle, whose injury is one of the most common causes of rotator cuff problems. Wearing a bag on one shoulder may create postural problems, including scoliosis.
Backpacks or knapsacks
These bags are usually designed with two straps to be worn over each shoulder. The best backpacks will also have a waist strap. When worn properly, the weight of the bag is transferred to both shoulders and the pelvis via the waist strap, while allowing both hands to be free.
Let us face it, schools are not likely to reduce the number of books that the child is required to carry each day, therefore, the best protection for your child is proper backpack safety techniques.
Articles by Dr. Gardner
The Gleaner , Monday | September 1, 2014