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World Spine Day 2015 and Straighten Up Ireland Week – Jennifer Downey MISCP

Every year on October 16th people from around the world join together to raise awareness on World Spine Day as part of the Bone and Joint Decade’s Action Week. Spinal disorders are common, and they can have a profound effect on a person’s overall health, impacting a person’s ability to work, to enjoy everyday activities and even disrupting healthy sleep patterns.

Research has demonstrated that poor postures and inactivity can contribute to the development of back pain and other spinal disorders.
• Back and neck pain is one of the most common reasons for workplace sick leave.
• 50% of the working population will experience back or neck pain symptoms at least once per year.
• In a recent study low back pain ranked as one of the most “disabling” conditions and sixth in terms of usage of health funding
And nowadays, growing numbers of children are developing irreversible back deformities which has been linked to the weight of the bags they carry to school.


One in four teenagers, who regularly carry schoolbags that weigh 10-15% of their body weight, are at risk of back pain and other related disorders, researchers found. Half of all children suffer back pain by the age of 14 and doctors are reporting a rise in cases of spinal abnormalities in pupils, including disfiguring curvatures known as scoliosis.


The researchers said that many children carry excessively loaded backpacks, which is harmful to a developing body. Health experts say children risk long-term and ultimately permanent damage if they regularly carry more than 15 per cent of their body weight over their shoulders.

Risk factors for back pain include:


• A schoolbag weighing more than 10% of the child’s weight
• Holding the bag in one hand by its straps
• Carrying the bag over one shoulder
• An incorrectly fitted/packed backpack


Experts have made numerous recommendations to reduce risk of injury:


1. Make sure the backpack is the appropriate size.
2. Choose a backpack with a moulded frame and adjustable hip straps; so the weight of the schoolbag rests on your child’s pelvis instead of their shoulders and spine.
3. The shoulder straps should be adjustable, and the rear of the backpack padded.
4. The backpack should have a few separate compartments.
5. The backpack should weigh less than 10 per cent of your child’s body weight.
6. Pack the heaviest items so they are closest to the child’s back.