BackPack Checks with Dr. Hooper

Throughout the month of February Dr. Hooper performed free backpack checks for kids returning to school.

Good fun was had by everyone – but there is an important message driving this community work. It is all about Spinal Hygiene.

We all understand the concept of Dental Hygiene. Kids need to be aware of their teeth and brush each day. Kids need to be aware of regular flossing and the concept of preventative maintenance. Kid inherently understand that if you look after your teeth now, you can keep teeth healthier as you grow older.

But, as important as the little bits of bone are in your mouth are (teeth) – how much more important are the little bits of bone in your back (vertebrae)?

Your spine not only determines how you look, but how you move, your posture, and how your feel about yourself. Unlike your teeth which are not weight bearing, the little bits of bone in your spine are under constant load and are integral in every movement you make.

Being able to study, play sports, run, jump, kick a footy is all controlled by your spine.

So, why the  Backpack checks?

Many postural and structural problems we see in adults start in kids.  These structural problems are often preventable and can me avoided if they are diagnosed early.

Backpack checks allow us to check if the weight is evenly distributed across the back and that the bag straps are adjusted to the appropriate height. We also gave tips about how to pack their bags to ensure they do not damage their spine.

Not a month goes by without a patient mentioning to how the bags they used to carry at school hurt them, or made them feel crooked. Unfortunately our collective posture is not getting better. Our posture is getting worse. Some of the postural issues we see in kids are quite frankly appalling. Walk through a shopping centre and observe how most teenagers sit or move. It is not great.

Many kids and teenagers have the posture of poor spinal hygiene. They are the postures of obesity. And in time, they will be the posture of pain.

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School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is vital for both their physical and mental development.

As parents it’s important to be checking your kids aren’t carrying bags too heavy for their underdeveloped frames. Make sure the weight is centred over the hips and close to the spine. Do not use the back pack as a locker. Use the locker to store books – not the back pack.

Ultimately if you have concerns regarding your child’s posture, they are unable to sit comfortably or constantly slouch then perhaps it is time for a postural assessment and spinal screening.

For kids who are on their phone constantly (who isn’t??) then it is even more important to have them checked. Anterior head carriage, or forward head posture (text neck) is a massive issue. It is easy to correct and provide preventative exercises in children. As they say ‘one adjustment in the child is worth 50 in the adult’.


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