Parents are being warned of the dangers of heavy school bags – and told if carried correctly, bags could offer children much-needed exercise.
The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists has highlighted the risks of carrying heavy bags back to class today (Monday) – while urging that bag carrying could be a necessarily evil to ensure children exercise.
The society has issued advice to mums and dads, including tips on: buying a lightweight backpack with adjustable straps, carrying a bag with a padded back and waist strap to protect a child’s back, putting the heaviest items to the back of the bag, wearing the bag on both shoulders, and carrying only books that are essential.
The group has stated that while a schoolbag can be viewed as something that causes “pain, discomfort and poor posture,” the best way forward is to adapt a bag to become part of the child’s health plan.
Sara Dockrell, a chartered physiotherapist and assistant professor at Trinity College, teaches and researches back care.She said: “Carrying a school bag is not all bad. The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists advocates that exercise and movement is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promotes a minimum of 60 minutes activity per day for children or 15,000 steps.“Walking to school with a school bag may be the only form of exercise that some children take, therefore we want to encourage, not discourage it.
“Promoting the steps to take to limit the potential discomfort by applying best practice is the best way forward to ensure we get that balance right”.
Thousands of children across the country will return to school today and will carry bags that are heavy for their young shoulders.
But the society is convinced that by choosing the right bag and wearing it safely – kids can make the most of the carrying the weight.
They warned against a “worrying trend,” of shoulder bags being worn over one shoulder and carried to school.
The group issued a statement saying: “It is not the ideal way to wear your school bag as it can lead to poor posture and significant discomfort.
“We want to get across at the start of the school year that there are simple things which parents and children can do to minimise discomfort, similar to the approach used in risk assessment in the workplace.
“Make the most from the exercise that children can get when walking to school with their bags.”
Other tips that the group have released are: carrying a schoolbag only when absolutely necessary. Children should leave bags on the ground while standing waiting for a bus. Children should avoid swinging bags and lifting it on the back, and parents are also being asked to involve schools in encouraging better timetables to allow children to carry less.