With the back-to-school routine in full swing, it’s time to leave the carefree days of summer behind and get back into the routine. For many kids and teenagers, that means long days—and heavy loads. Heavy backpacks and the backpack pain they cause can contribute to lasting changes in spinal column compression and curvature in the lower back. Those changes are dangerous for anyone, especially growing children.
Backpacks are often loaded down with books from multiple classes and activities, as well as lunches, snacks, water bottles, and other necessities for the school day. A 2010 study in Spine found that over 90% of children carry a backpack as heavy as 10-20% of their body weight. Such a heavy load strains the spine.
With such heavy loads to carry, children make adjustments in their posture to try to ease the backpack pain. They’ll bend forward at the waist or round their shoulders forward. Some children even tilt their chins upward. Though these are small adjustments in themselves, any changes in body posture can cause strain—and, eventually, pain—in children and adults.
Many adults and parents are already familiar with the scourge of daily back and neck pain. Stress and strain play a role, as well as long hours of sitting and driving. Even sleeping posture can contribute to back and neck pain. Now, kids are also experiencing back pain at a much earlier age that in the past, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Heavy loads contribute to backpack pain and are a main culprit.
Protect your kids by making sure that the burden is manageable. Doing so can ease backpack pain now as well as buffer their growing bodies against damage that could cause other pain later in life. Here’s what we at Sleigh Family Chiropractic recommend for backpack pain avoidance:
Choose a quality backpack for your child to carry. Select one made of lightweight, durable material. Carefully consider the straps—padded straps that distribute the weight of the pack well across the shoulders are best.
Adjust the backpack straps for proper fit. When the backpack is full, ensure that the bottom of the backpack is two inches above your child’s waist.
Encourage your child to put on and carry the backpack properly. Your child should lift the pack with both hands, bend at the knees, and put in on one strap at a time. In addition, he or she should wear the backpack with both straps all the time—not hanging off the back by one strap.
Empty the backpack regularly. Many children carry more around than they actually need, so make going through the backpack’s contents a regular daily or weekly routine. Encourage your child to carry only the books and items he or she needs for that day, not for the week.
Weigh the backpack weekly. Weigh your child’s backpack regularly. Is he or she carrying more than 15% of his or her body weight? It’s time to go through the backpack and consider what’s really necessary.
If your child is exhibiting signs of stress or imbalance to the developing spine, or is complaining of backpack pain, it may be time for our expertise and chiropractic care. If you have any concerns, come in to see us.
At Sleigh Family Chiropractic, we offer exceptional chiropractic care for your entire family. With a warm and friendly atmosphere as our standard, we believe that what our patients encounter is different from that experienced in other doctors’ offices. What’s more, we strive to give our patients a path to optimal health with excellent chiropractic care as well as resources for home. Whatever your health needs and goals are, Sleigh Family Chiropractic will help you and your loved ones achieve them. We invite you to visit us and experience our standard of care. Learn more or call us at 847-788-0880.