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The Benefits of a Donkey Versus a Backpack to Protect Your Child’s Spine

Just have a think about lifting your child's backpack, now think about the impact of that weight in their backpack on their growing spine, surely a donkey is a great idea, right?

How a child should carry a backpack

We are becoming increasingly alarmed at the damage children are seemingly obliviously inflicting upon themselves. Watching children walking home from school, and seeing their massive school bags on their backs, which only get heavier as they move through their school years, is disturbing. As a parent you need to know that your child is contributing daily to lifelong spinal problems.

Following backpack fashion trends or carrying their backpacks incorrectly can cause the spinal bones to become mis-aligned and put pressure on nerve tissue which can have devastating effects.

Research on Teenagers Backpacks and Back Pain

It is becoming apparent that adult back pain and spinal disorders may stem from carrying a heavily loaded bag for years. In fact, research shows that teenagers with back pain are more likely to grow into adults with back pain.

Carrying the backpack over one shoulder can also cause long term injury. Figures from a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine showed 53.7% of children experienced back pain who carried a bag on just one side. Plus, when the weight in the backpack is carried too low down on the spine, then your child will lean forward to counterbalance this, contributing to their slouching posture which could eventually progress to increased curvatures of the spine.

The recommendations are for the weight of your child’s backpack to be less than 10% of your child’s body weight. So, if your child weighs 30kg, that’s just a 3kg maximum weight of their backpack AND contents.

Years ago, I think, we would all have owned a donkey. Strapped our books, lunch and water bottle to the sides of the donkey and either walked the donkey with our load to school or ridden it. Maybe the answer lies in purchasing a donkey. The benefits of a donkey are more than you think… They would munch on your weeds, provide fertiliser for your garden and a pet for the family. Don’t discount this helpful family friend.


How to Protect Your Child's Spine from Their Load

If a Donkey isn’t your thing, we have come up with 5 simple ‘B’ guidelines to be followed:

Both Shoulders – Check that their bag is fitted correctly over both shoulders.

Body Weight - Never let your child carry more than 10% of their body weight. (We suggest parents lift their child’s bag for themselves every week to check how they are packing it & how heavy it feels.)

Beside - Teach them how to pack their bags, heaviest articles beside their bodies.

Belt - Use the hip belt done up firmly so their hips can take the load.

Be pro-active - Have their spine checked to find out now if any damage has already been caused to their back, if necessary, have it corrected and prevent further deterioration.

The benefit of a donkey versus a backpack to protect your child's spine does seem quite obvious, however if you feel it’s the backpack that’s the winner for you, then really look at how you can minimize its damage to your children. At House of Chiropractic in Albury we help lots of children and teenagers with a range of conditions. If you would like to find out if we can help your kids, please call on 02 6009 0999.


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