’Tis the season yet again. No, not holiday season. This season is arguably more exciting for parents — I’m speaking of course about back-to-school season! As we all finish up our last-minute shopping for new clothes, accessories and school supplies, it’s important to be aware of the impact heavy backpacks have on our children. Kids wear heavy backpacks to, from and during school for hours on end, 5 days a week. It truly does take a toll on kids’ posture and spinal health. In fact, during a study in Riverside, CA, an estimated 64% of children aged 11–15 complained that they had experienced back pain at some point due to their backpack — 2 of every 5 kids said they experience regular pain WHILE wearing their backpack. This pattern of behavior is not only painful in the short term, it has serious ramifications later on in life. Back pain is a serious matter, so it’s important to avoid bad habits — the earlier the better. Here are some tips to save your child’s spine this school year.
Studies have shown that backpack weight really starts to become harmful when it exceeds 20% of the carrier’s body weight. Most experts recommend sticking to 10–15%. So try leaving the heavy textbooks in the locker if they’re not needed for homework; and if they absolutely ARE needed, try to place the heavier books as close to the back as possible. If the majority of weight is placed away from the spine, the body tends to naturally bend forward to compensate. Over time, this leads to spinal subluxations and can do some real damage to the back muscles.
Get a Rolling Bag
Obviously the most productive thing you can do is to completely eliminate the need to carry large amounts of weight on your back. That’s where rolling bags/backpacks come into play. Students are able to carry everything they need without having to endure back pain day in and day out.
Buy a Higher Quality Bag
Get a backpack that’s made of sturdy, lighter material. Ensure that the straps are padded and that your child always wears the bag with two straps on the shoulders. Using only one strap will cause uneven weight distribution and such lopsided weight will cause problems in the spine. Additionally, be sure to adjust the backpack straps so that they’re fit snugly around the shoulders, so the bag can’t sway or flop around.
These simple steps are easy to take and they’ll help your child’s spine in the long-term. If your child has already complained about back pain, they may need extra help. As a family-oriented chiropractor, my practice is viable for people of all ages — from toddlers to kids to teenagers to adults. Get in touch to schedule a consultation today!