Aching backs are often seen as a sign of getting older. But schoolchildren could be storing up problems for the future by carrying heavy bags to and from lessons.
Poor posture is also thought to be putting young backs at risk.
Back Care Awareness Week – which starts today and runs until Sunday – is focusing on the back pain caused to school children.
The charity, BackCare, says that more than 120,000 children will see a doctor about back pain before the age of 16.
And primary school teachers are also suffering. A survey by the education union, Voice, discovered that 88 per cent experienced back pain at least once a week and 70 per cent had sought medical treatment.
They said their back problems were caused by bending over low tables, sitting on children’s chairs, and kneeling at low tables or on the floor.
Now the charity is calling for legislation intended to protect adults in the workplace to be extended to cover children at school.
‘Schools aren’t aware of the consequences of buying the wrong furniture for the classroom,’ says Annabel Boys, a Body Stress Release practitioner and BackCare member, based at the Oasis Wellness Centre at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
‘We’re discovering that many children are slumped over laptops or desks. And they carry books and equipment to and from school that are too heavy because of lack of storage space. These are causing neck and back pain for thousands of children.’
Adults working in an office at a desk or computer are protected by legislation. But in schools there aren’t any regulations on the furniture children have to work at.
‘Children vary enormously in their size, height and weight throughout their school career, much more so than adults,’ adds Annabel. ‘But there’s a “one size fits all” policy when it comes to furniture.
‘They spend long periods sat down and this can cause uneven tension in muscles. A child with tension in their neck may lack concentration and become disruptive and this tension builds up.’
Body Stress Release is a gentle, pressure-based technique that stimulates the body’s own healing process.
Unlike massage, there’s no skin-on-skin contact or forceful manipulation.
Instead, Annabel’s clients lie on a specially designed couch while she finds areas of stored tension in the muscles using a series of simple tests. A light pressure is then applied to encourage the body to release tension.
Annabel says: ‘If you’ve got a bad back, changing your posture will help to a certain extent but if you’re also having treatment then the two things can definitely work in tandem.’
n Readers can get a free hard copy of a book on Body Stress Release by visiting unlockmyback.com