Heavy schoolbags are one of the known causes for bad posture in children. In this interview with Dr Erica, our primary chiropractor at Novena, will be sharing the reasons why posture is important and what you can do as parents to help your child maintain good posture and how to reduce the stresses caused by heavy schoolbags.
Q: Hi Dr Erica, is there a guide as to how heavy a child’s school bag should be?
A: A child’s school bag should weigh no more than 15% of your child’s bodyweight, as this can damage their developing spine. Less than 10% of their bodyweight is ideal.
Q: How big of a problem is this in Singapore? Is it common for kids here to have spine/ back issues because of carrying a heavy load?
A: As school kids get older, we often see the weight of their school bags increase substantially, along with increased school demands and hours sitting. In modern Singapore life, kids are looking down at mobile devices and sitting in fixed positions more than any previous generation.
This can lead to a condition known as Forward Head Posture, when the head is shifted and locked forward over the shoulders. This is happening at a very critical period of spinal development. These modern posture problems combined with carrying heavy loads are creating spinal issues in our kids at earlier ages than ever before.
Q: What are some physical consequences that would arise from this?
A: A major consequence of heavy schoolbags is poor posture. Look at your child’s posture from the side, then observe their posture again with a heavy book bag. This worsening of posture is often dramatic!
When postural distortions occur in children, they often worsen and can even become permanent as they grow into adults. These postural distortions are primary structural issues that put added stress on developing joints, muscles, and spinal bones. This is linked to the future development of secondary symptoms such as neck pain, shoulder stiffness, back pain, headaches, decreased lung capacity, and poor mood.
Q: Could it also affect a child’s psychological or emotional disposition in school?
A: Absolutely. Posture has been associated with focus and mood. A hunching posture also decreases self-confidence. If your child is already suffering from pain or discomfort caused by these structural issues, they will likely not be as outgoing, be more irritable, and less active in the classroom, sports, or activities. This can also lead to them feeling more “stressed out” or anxious.
Q: What preventive measures can parents take?
- Every Sunday,empty out your child’s schoolbag and review what they have stuffed inside. You would be surprised what items accumulate inside that add unnecessary weight. If your child is a teenager, find out if they need to carry all their books all the time, or if their schedule for Monday, Wednesday and Friday different from Tuesday and Thursday?
- Check the schoolbag straps for proper shoulder placement, making sure that the bottom of the schoolbag is slightly above the waist and resting in the curve of the lower back. A schoolbag with a chest strap and hip belt helps to distribute the load more evenly.
- Continue weekly reminders that wearing the schoolbag on both shoulders prevents postural problems.
- Weigh your child’s schoolbag once a week to determine if it is within the safe range of less than 15% of your child’s body weight.
- If your child is not under regular wellness chiropractic care, check your child’s shoulder and head level at least once a month to determine if they are showing early signs of repetitive stress on their growing spine. A family wellness chiropractor who is trained to detect the early signs can perform this exam. Like dentistry, early detection and correction is key to better health.
Q: Can chiropractic care help kids who are already suffering negative consequences?
A: Chiropractic focuses on the anatomy of the spinal cord and the nerves that branch out from it. Even minor deviations of the spine caused by poor posture can impair the workings of a nerve and the body part it supplies.
A child can never be too young for a spinal checkup. For children, chiropractic is all about preventing a small problem from developing into a major crisis and helping them grow to their full potential in life. If spinal misalignments are found, a chiropractor will use adjustments to correct the structural issues. An adjustment is a very specific, focused and gentle input of pressure into a misaligned area of the spine, to restore alignment and to promote optimal health of the nervous system. We’ve helped many kids improve their posture during their chiropractic journey with us.
Adjusting a baby or a child is very different than adjusting an adult. A chiropractor trained in paediatrics will use specialized techniques and protocols to give the most effective and safest care for your child.
About Dr Erica (D.C)
Dr. Erica Kiela is a chiropractor with Full Potential Chiropractic in Singapore. She started receiving chiropractic adjustments since the age of 12, and knew from a young age that she wanted to bring the gift of chiropractic to others after repeating the benefits of a chiropractic lifestyle. She enjoys helping everyone, and is particularly passionate about caring for pregnant mums and children.
Originally from Wisconsin, USA, she moved to Singapore to pursue this passion of impacting families through chiropractic.