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Oakland Chiropractor >Oakland Chiropractic News >    Backpack-Related Injuries and Your Child's Health
Backpack-Related Injuries and Your Child's Health

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Oakland, CA

(510) 992-6834

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Backpack-Related Injuries and Your Child's Health

Based on recent studies, it has become apparent that the causes of back pain are many and varied — among adults and children alike. The current leading cause of back pain in children, it seems, is backpacks; if they are too heavy, problems result.

In recent years, the number of children lugging heavy, overweight backpacks is staggering. Children with bulky backpacks hung over one shoulder are a common sight. The results of a recent study show that, on the average, a child carries a backpack with a weight equivalent of 39 pounds (for a 176-pound man), and 29 pounds (for a 132-pound woman). Not unsurprisingly, 60 percent of the children who carry these backpacks did, indeed, experience associated back pain.

In an initial study, the relationship between the length of time a person continuously wears a heavy backpack was found to correlate with the time it takes to correct the resultant spine curvature or deformity.

School districts have taken notice of the issues centered around backpack usage, especially as many schools have already removed lockers from their halls; this gives children no choice but to lug heavy books around. At present, the ACA recommends that children not carry more than 10 percent of his or her body weight.

What You Can Do
The ACA has come up with recommendations to prevent the occurrence of backpack-associated back pain.

  • Check to make sure that the backpack your child carries is not more than 10 percent of his body weight. Backpacks heavier than the recommended weight will cause your child to bend forward to support the load on his or her back.
  • The backpack should be no more than four inches below the waist. Backpacks that fall any lower run the risk of causing your child to compensate by leaning forward.
  • Pointed and/or bulky objects should be kept away from the child's back.
  • Refrain from purchasing large backpacks. They can coax your child to pack in more things inside it, which naturally adds to the weight and overload.
  • Shoulder straps, BOTH of them, should always be used; this will help avoid muscle spasms in the neck, and reduce low-back strain. Wearing only one strap can cause too much stress on either side.
  • Buy backpacks with wide and padded straps to provide comfort. Thin and unpadded straps can cause pain on your child's shoulders by cutting into them.
  • Fix the shoulder straps so that they fit well on your child's shoulders. Having straps that are ill-fitting or too loose can cause unnecessary movement of the backpack and lead to spinal misalignment and pain.
  • Don't be afraid to discuss this matter with your child's teacher; he or she may be able to structure assignments so that not every — especially heavy — book is needed for homework.
  • Per ACA recommendation, do not let your child use a rollerpack, or a backpack on wheels, unless otherwise indicated. Rollerpacks create clutter in school hallways and may lead to harmful falls.

Chiropractic Help
If your child has experienced unnecessary back pain or discomfort associated with his or her backpack, contact a chiropractor. Chiropractor doctors are licensed specialists, having undergone professional education and training aimed toward diagnosing and treating back pain in people of all ages.

Chiropractors can also create an exercise program aimed at strengthening your child's muscle as they go through the developmental phase. Their other specialties are guidance on proper posture and sleeping habits and a well-balanced nutritional advice for the body.

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