You might not know this but pediatricians are regularly reporting more and more cases of injuries in school-age children and teens from back strain. The main culprit in these injuries and pains are often too-heavy backpacks.
Studies have shown backpacks usually weigh in at 20 to 40 percent of a child’s body weight, meaning a 90-pound child could be hauling around a 36-pound backpack day after day.
Simply put, this is too much strain on a child’s spine. That coupled with sitting for long hours each day at desks can make for numerous back pains and strains in children at a time when their spines and bodies are developing.
When a person of any age tries to carry a heavy weight across their backs for a long period of time, the body compensates and this can lead to everything from reduced balance because the person leans forward; rounded shoulders; muscle strain and damage to the rib cage and joints in the spine, and distorting the curves and alignment in the back.
What can be even worse is when a child carries a backpack over one shoulder, which weighs down one side of the spine more than the other. This leads to straining muscles, back pain, spasms, and even developmental issues.
Heavy back packs also strain neck muscles, leading to headaches, shoulder pain, lower back pain and arm pains.
There are two major ways to help your child reduce possible back pain issues related to their backpacks.
First, make sure the backpack itself is a good one.
– It should have a hip strap, belt or frame to distribute the weight from the shoulders to the pelvis;
– Canvas backpacks are lighter than leather;
– Adjustable shoulder straps and a padded back or even lumbar support;
– Multiple compartments distribute weight better;
Second, make sure your child is properly using the backpack.
– Don’t sling the pack over only one shoulder, use both straps;
– Use all compartments;
– Make sure the straps are tight and snug against the child;
– If the child has to lean forward while walking, the backpack is too heavy;
– Lighten the load as much as possible by having your child carry only necessary items. Other items can be left at home or in a locker;
– Use a weight limit of 10-15 percent of the child’s weight;
– Clean the backpack out regularly;
– Get the smallest backpack you can that will still allow them to carry everything necessary;
As a new school year approaches, keep these ideas top of mind when picking out your child’s next backpack and on a daily basis as they pack for school. But also you can help by being proactive and asking questions. Talk to your child to see if they’re having any pains, watch the weight of the backpack, watch to see if the child looks is having any issues. Talk to teachers to see how you can minimize the weight of a backpack and what gets carried to school each day.
Allison Family Chiropractic welcomes families and children who seek to feel better and want total body health. Our caring atmosphere and expertise can be a major benefit to you and your children. If you want to make an appointment today, call 419-991-0713 or email us today.