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It’s heavy – it’s my school bag!

Terence Pillay revisits the issue of the heavy weight of the books children are made to carry in their school bags and chats to a man that may have found the solution.






year I featured the story of children straining under the weight of heavy school bags and complaining of problems with their backs. 

Read: Junior Heavy Lifting
From an educational point of view, we live in a country where schools are not well equipped in terms of lockers and so on and children share classrooms – so we don’t have the luxury of having every child allocated a desk that belongs to them for the time that they are at school.
If you think about it in the rural context, some of those kids are walking one, two, three, often four or five kilometres to school every day carrying these books. They’re not being dropped off in a 4 X 4. So let’s make it simple and not painful for them to go to school.
At the time, I chatted to chiropractor Kyle Deutschaman of M & D Health and Dr Bruce Thomson from Health at 202 and both agree that there can be long-term impact if this continues.
Bruce said that carrying these weights can be like a repeated stress sports injury and because the child’s bones are soft and not fully developed, abnormalities can form. And if abnormalities form early on and are not fixed, it has the potential to impact that child for the rest of his life.
Kyle said that most schools only allow non-satchel bags which change the weight bearing points. So your centre, which is your spine, is no longer your centre. He says this can result in muscular imbalances, general postural problems and malalignment.  
So fitness enthusiast and personal trainer Selwyn Rautenbach, who himself has five children who experience this problem, was moved to try and find a solution. He started researching and finally found what he calls an orthopaedic loading system or a BackTPack (BTP), which bilaterally distributes the weight of the load children carry to school.

He is currently in discussions with the Chiropractic Association of South Africa and is running tests on a select number of children to test the credibility of the system. When it’s finally introduced to the country, it could completely revolutionise the way children carry their books to school. And eradicate the problem of bad backs and other postural issues that surround the current carrying of these loads.



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