Backpack Safety Tips From Your
Maple Grove Chiropractic Office
When we think of back pain, we typically form a mental picture of an adult hunched over, or maybe even take it a step further and picture an elderly individual. Unfortunately, a new and disturbing trend has begun to emerge where young children are suffering from back pain; of course this was essentially unheard of in previous generations. One of the contributing factors to the rise of adolescent back pain is really of no surprise; it's the increased use of overweight backpacks.
When you consider the disproportionate amounts of weight carried in backpacks to the actual size of the child, it's really no surprise that children are now experiencing pain and symptoms. Not only is it the pure size of the back, but also that the bags are often slung over one shoulder and now place an uneven load on the spine, muscles, and surrounding structures.
The problem has become so widespread and documented that some states are even considering passing legislation that would limit the weight of a backpack to no more than 10% of the child's bodyweight. The same laws would also urge the use of ergonomically correct backpacks as much as possible.
What Can You Do?
The American Chiropractic Association offers a number of tips to help prevent back injuries and back
pain from the improper use of backpacks. Let's check them out!
- Make sure that your child's backpack weighs no more than 5-10 percent of their total bodyweight. Heavier backpacks cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight of the pack on their back, rather than transferring the weight through the straps and onto the shoulders.
- The backpack should sit at the correct height. As a general guideline, the backpack should never hang lower than four inches below the waistline. Once again, this forces the child to lean forward to balance the weight of the pack.
- Most backpacks have multiple compartments and they are there for a reason. Not only do they provide for effective organization, but also for even weight distribution of items. Also, use the compartments to make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
- A bigger backpack is not necessarily better, The more room there is in a backpack, the more likely the child is to fill it up with unnecessary items that will increase the overall weight of the pack.
- Encourage your child to wear the backpack as it was designed - with both straps. Using only one strap distributes the weight of the pack unevenly causing a disproportionate shift of weight from side to side. This can cause things such as muscle spasms and low back pain.
- Wide, paddled straps are important. This provides comfort, disperses the weight of the backpack, and keeps the straps from digging into the child's shoulders.
- The shoulders straps of any good backpack should be adjustable. This will allow the backpack to be fitted to your child's body and the ability to make these adjustments also means that the backpack can continue to be utilized as the child continues to grow.
- Talk with your child's teachers if the backpack is still too heavy. Sometimes it is a possibility to leave some of the heavier materials at school such as textbooks and workbooks.
- A continual trend of roller bags or backpacks on wheels has become increasingly popular, however, this should truly only be used by those students who are physically not able to carry a backpack. Some school districts have begun banning the use of roller packs as they have proven more dangerous and cause increased clutter in hallways.
At Total Spine Health and Injury Center, we are dedicated to helping you and your children be your best. Of course, we urge you to be proactive in your health and follow the necessary steps to avoid pain or injury, however we understand that things happen…life happens. We encourage you to take any complaints of pain from your children seriously. Chiropractic care is also a great step in strengthening the spine, improving the biomechanics of the body and leading to an overall healthier way of life. Check out our Maple Grove MN Chiropractic office today to learn more about how chiropractic can help you!