When you hear that someone is suffering from back pain, it is unlikely that you would suspect that someone is an elementary school student. And if you hear that a high schooler or college student is having back issues, you would likely believe that it stems from a sports-related injury.
Unfortunately, chronic low back pain is striking children at younger ages than ever. The culprit? Carrying too much weight in their backpacks. Many people are shocked to learn that children are routinely carrying a backpack that weighs more than 30 percent of their body weight!
Here are some tips to ensure your child is using a backpack correctly:
Check that your child’s backpack weights no more than 10 percent of their body weight.
Make sure the backpack is worn on both shoulders. This will help to prevent muscle strain because the weight is evenly distributed.
Adjust the should straps to fit snugly on the shoulders.
The bottom of the backpack should be less than four inches below the waist.
Choose the correct type of backpack which includes a front strap that can be worn across the chest and has individual compartments. The front strap allows the weight of the backpack to be as close to the spine as possible, reducing muscle stress. Individual compartments help to position contents to reduce strain on the back.
Heavier objects in the backpack should be placed nearer to the child’s back.
Items in the backpack should fit as snugly as possible to avoid shifting weight.
When possible, students should take a break from wearing their backpack. This means storing books and other items in their lockers or cubicles so they don’t have to carry their backpack with them all day.
Carrying an overloaded backpack can negatively impact spine health because it interferes with correct posture and body mechanics, causing lasting damage. A backpack that weighs too much can change the natural curvature of the spine and put abnormal stress on the structure of the spine.
How a person picks up a backpack also can cause problems. When lifting a backpack, students should keep their neck and back in line, bend at the hips, and lift with the legs while tightening abdominal muscles. They should never reach or twist when picking up a backpack.
If your child complains of back pain, chiropractic care can help. Your chiropractor will help model proper techniques for carrying backpacks as well as offer tips for good posture in general. He or she also can offer advice on eating the right foods to build strong bones and joints.
Injuries from backpacks are a common and serious problem in the United States. Backpacks that are too heavy can cause chronic back pain, poor posture and even decreased lung function.
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