"Back" to School (Backpack Safety)

The holidays are over and the kids are getting back into the swing of things for the second half of the school year.   The days are getting longer and the school bells are ringing.  Your child has homework and is lugging heavy books and binders between school and home.  They are loading as much into their backpacks as possible . This is a serious concern. 

Children and teens are carrying around backpacks that are far too heavy for their growing spines.  Studies have shown that heavy backpacks significantly increase back pain in children.  Children often will complain of neck, shoulder and low back pain.

Not only is weight a concern, but how the backpacks are worn concerns me,  especially, with the high school students. Their backpacks are overloaded, usually carried by one strap over one shoulder, and if both straps are used, they are so loose that the backpack is practically hanging down below their low back.  This puts extra weight on the spine that can lead to pain or serious back problems.

According to a study published in the journal Spine, increasing the weight of backpacks can:  1. Significantly compress the discs of the low back, 2. Increase spinal curvature, and 3. Significantly increase low back pain in children.*

 With bags so heavy, its no wonder many kids think school is a “pain in the neck!”

 Here are some tips to prevent back pain associated with carrying heavy backpacks:

 -Backpacks should ideally be no heavier than 10% of a student’s weight. A heavier pack will cause them to bend forward.

 -Wide padded straps are very important.  Thinner straps can dig into your child’s shoulders.

 -Use both straps- never sling the pack over one shoulder.  Lugging a backpack around by one strap will cause a shift of weight to one side leading to neck and shoulder spasms as well as low back pain.

 -The bottom of the backpack should not be any lower than the hollow of the lower back.  If it is lower the child has to lean forward while walking.

 -If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your children’s teacher.  You both care about your child’s health and well-being.

 -Remember to pack it light and wear it right!

           If your child experiences any pain or discomfort from backpack use, don’t wait to get them the help they need. Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective, and can restore correct function and relieve pain symptoms associated with carrying heavy backpacks. Chiropractors possess an excellent safety record, and are spinal health experts.

  Dr. Ashley Kauffman

Rushmore Family Chiropractic

*Spine: January 2010 – Volume 35 – Issue 1 – pp 83-88

Samantha Schmeltzer

FIVE:thirty LLC, 510 9th Street, Rapid City, SD, 57701