As the school year begins, one thing to consider is your child’s backpack. Most people don’t think about the amount of weight that is carried in a backpack. However, it is astonishing how heavy a backpack can become when a child has various books and other materials that they have to carry to and from school.
In the following article by Chiro Health, they explain in detail how much a backpack can actually affect a child’s back and create back-related injuries:
Backpacks for the New School Year
When back-to-school shopping this year, there is one essential item that requires very special attention: your child’s backpack. In 2013 alone, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cited 5,415 backpack-related injuries treated at emergency rooms. Chiropractic physicians suggest that backpacks weigh no more than 5 to 10 percent of the child’s body weight. Read more…
The previous article clearly discusses the impact that can be made due to backpack use, leading to back-related injuries. In the following post by Spine Health, they explain how the back is physically affected by the improper use of a backpack:
Backpacks and Back Pain in Children
How Kids’ Backs Respond to Backpacks
Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the strong back and shoulder muscles. The risk, however, is overload, which can strain the back, neck, or shoulders.The back will compensate for any load applied to it for an extended period of time. A heavy weight carried in backpacks can:
- Distort the natural curves in the middle and lower backs, causing muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage
- Lead to rounding of the shoulders
- Cause a person to lean forward, reducing balance and making it easier to fall
The first article above informed us of the medical research found proving that a backpack can injure a child’s back. The second article discusses how the improper use of a backpack physically affects the back. The use of a backpack is necessary during the school year so what can you do to prevent your child from being injured? In the following article by American Chiropractic Association, they provide some useful tips to prevent a back injuries caused from the use of a backpack:
Backpack Misuse Leads to Chronic Back Pain, Doctors of Chiropractic Say
The ACA offers the following tips to help prevent the needless pain that backpack misuse could cause the students in your household.
- Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
- The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
- A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry-and the heavier the backpack will be.
- Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
- Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child’s shoulders.
- The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
- If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child’s teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.
- Although the use of rollerpacks – or backpacks on wheels – has become popular in recent years, the ACA is now recommending that they be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. Some school districts have begun banning the use of rollerpacks because they clutter hallways, resulting in dangerous trips and falls.
As you can see, there are proper and improper ways to carry a backpack. If you or your child uses a backpack, be aware of how you are carrying it to prevent a back injury.