School is now in session and with that also comes unnecessary back problems in children. An ongoing trend for most US schools is the removal of the book locker. Although this has certain positive results, such as student safety and relieving congestion in the hallways, it can create an issue with student health. With kids being subjected to carrying a full day’s load of books and other school supplies on their backs, we are seeing an early onset of poor posture in our beloved children. And, unfortunately this poor posture now sets the stage for injury and other health related issues, such as, but not limited to, subluxations, pinched nerves, pain, strains/sprains, arthritis, and scoliosis.
No lockers result in heavier backpacks which means lower back issues in children are beginning to present themselves earlier on in life.
There are ways to mitigate long term issues related to lugging around a pack full of books.
The American Chiropractic Association 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, 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.
With advanced technology lighter computers and tablets are becoming the norm, and may aid in relieving the excess weight students will need to carry for a full day of class. But, until every child can afford a tablet, and schools are advanced enough to support new technology, kids will be stuck carrying a full load of classroom supplies.
If you think your child may be having back or neck issues due to complications with a heavy backpack, visiting your local chiropractor can be a great resource to not only help your child but also give you tips on future prevention. Chiropractors specialize in neck and back issues caused by postural loads and abnormalities. There is help for childhood back and neck pain due to poor fitting heavy backpacks without the need for dangerous pharmaceuticals.