Back pain among children is becoming more common, and a leading cause of this trend may be the use of overweight backpacks. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says that many parents are not aware they need to limit their child's backpack weight or teach them proper posture when carrying one.
Dr. Perez, the doctor who owns OneCare Health Associates in Orange City, FL., has noticed a sharp increase in young children complaining about back pain and shoulder pain. He asks all of his patients with this complaint if they carry a backpack to school - almost always their answer is yes!
This trend among young people is not surprising when considering the disproportionate amounts of weight that they carry in their backpacks, often slung over only one shoulder. Surveys show children today tote around everything from books and laptops to sports uniforms, shoes, water bottles—in addition to what’s required for school.
Backpacks are a popular accessory for students of all ages. The study found that over 70% of children surveyed had backpacks with weight greater than 10 percent of their body weight, and 32% complained about having back pain as well.
The weight of the backpack you are carrying has a direct effect on your posture. It turns out that when kids carry heavier backpacks, their heads and spines have to bend farther forward in order to accommodate them.
Who Do We Prevent This?
Dr. Perez recommends using an ergonomically designed backpack that you can find at your local retailer or online. When choosing a backpack, be sure to use the following tips in order to ensure its proper weight distribution:
- When packing your child's backpack, make sure it is no heavier than 10 percent of their body weight. This will cause them to bend forward and not keep the pack on their shoulders.
- A backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. When a heavy pack hangs too low, it causes children to lean forward when walking and creates an awkward posture that can cause pain in their back or shoulders.
- A backpack with many different compartments is helpful in organizing the contents. However, pointy or bulky objects should be packed away from where your child will wear it on their back to prevent discomfort.
- Having a big backpack can be an inconvenience rather than a convenience for children. The more room there is in the bag, they are likely to carry heavier things and thus increase their chances of having back pain and problems as well.
- Wearing both shoulder straps will allow your child to carry the backpack in a more balanced fashion. The unbalanced weight of carrying it by one strap can cause neck and muscle spasms, as well as low back pain.
- When choosing a backpack, consider wide padded straps. This will ensure your child's comfort and prevent any unnecessary discomfort or pain.
- The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can fit snugly against your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the pack to dangle, which will strain their back and spine over time.
- If your child's backpack is still too heavy, talk to their teacher. Ask if they could leave the heaviest books at school and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks so that it does not feel like such a burden for them when carrying around all day long.
- Carefully using roller packs - or backpacks on wheels – should only be done by students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. They also pose their own risks in the hallways, potentially causing dangerous trips and falls.
How a Chiropractor Can Help
If your child experiences any pain or discomfort from his/her backpack use, call a chiropractor. Chiropractors are licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages in addition to providing recommendations on exercises designed for children that develop strong muscles along with proper sleeping habits as well as nutrition choices.
If back pain is a concern for you or your child, it’s important to take the time and choose a backpack that will not cause injury. The tips above are good guidelines when purchasing backpacks: size, weight capacity, number of pockets, and frame type. This post also provides some insight as to who should avoid using backpacks with wheels in order to prevent tripping accidents. If back pain persists after following these steps, contact an experienced chiropractor. They can provide relief by diagnosing the source of your back pain and recommend exercises designed specifically for children so they can develop strong muscles along with proper sleeping habits which lead to healthy eating habits too!
Please contact OneCare Health Associates to make a chiropractic appointment by calling our office or contacting us here.