What our experts say:

Tom Hector MCSP HPC BSc (hons)
Chartered Physiotherapist

“Children’s back care is something that we should all be paying attention too. I see far too many children in my clinic and I know that many of the problems are down to bad posture, heavy school bags and sitting for long periods of time with no movement. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference and I would like to think that parents are getting more back aware. If children are going to carry a bag, whether it’s to school or for sports activity, it’s essential that the bags are suitable. Backpacks are best with wide straps worn over both shoulders. If there is a chest strap then children should also attach this so that the bag sits at the correct position on their backs. Parents should also make sure their children are not carrying excessive baggage that could effect their posture and ultimately damage their spines in the long term.”

  • Dr Clare Hyland
    Registered Chiropractor
    BSc(Chiro), DC, MCC
    Ashtead Chiropractic Clinic

    Bones are the framework for your child’s growing body. During childhood and adolescence, much more bone is deposited as the skeleton grows in both size and density. Therefore your child’s posture is of the up most importance at this time! Children’s lifestyles today often don’t promote “good posture”. Children carry heavy school bags and study in awkward positions for long periods. An increased use of computer games and television can lead to a decrease in general activity levels. It is easy to see why more children are becoming vulnerable to head, neck and back pain! I have treated many families in my seventeen years as a Chiropractor, and I truly believe there are a few simple steps that a parent can take to promote their child’s good posture.

    These include;

    1/ Using an ergonomic back pack with wide padded straps. These will provide comfort as well as preventing the straps digging into the shoulders, which can interfere with the circulation and nerve supply to the arm! The straps should also be adjustable to fit your child’s body. The backpack should be the length of the thoracic spine (from the upper back to the bottom of the ribs), and not the entire back.

    2/ Try to keep the weight of the back pack to 10-15% of your child’s bodyweight, if possible.

    3/ Keep mobile! Don’t let your child sit, study or use the computer for longer than 40 minutes at a time.

    4/ Try to ensure that your child wears good footwear.

    5/ Increased activity and regular exercise are extremely important.

  • Nick Potter
    Registered Osteopath
    BSc(Ost), MRO, Dip Myo Ac
    The Centre For Physical Medicine Princess Grace Hospital

    “I have been involved in treating spinal problems for 20 years in a neurosurgical unit and in family primary care. It has become a real concern to me over that time, how many children and young people are coming to see us with potentially serious spinal problems, predominantly due to poor posture and carrying heavy unbalanced loads at school, less sport and activity at play time, and worryingly long periods at a screen every day. This is backed up by MRI scanning of young spines showing prematurely degenerative discs particularly in the neck. Symptoms include neck pain, arm and shoulder pain as well as headaches. Schools and parents have got to take steps to address this issue”

  • Our top tips:

    1. Get your child a backpack-style school bag that is ergonomically designed and made of light-weight compressed foam

    2. Remind them to wear their backpack properly over both shoulders

    3. Ensure your child is not carrying too much in their school bags - a weekly clear out will help them organise their books for the week ahead

    4. Make sure you check the weight of the bag - it shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of their bodyweight e.g. if your child weighs five stone their bag should not weigh more than 3.1kg

    5. Encourage good posture - at school and home

    6. Children come in many shapes and sizes, but school desks and chairs do not - ensure your child is sitting properly and comfortably at school

    7. Don‘t let them slump in front of the TV for hours - get out and about as much as possible

    8. Make sure your children let you know as soon as they experience back pain