School, Backpack & Back Pain

child falling over with back pain from back packSchool is about to begin and many parents our shopping for school supplies. A main staple of the back to school shopping is a backpack pack. While it seems that this item is a simple choice, recent research has demonstrated it could cause back pain in your child. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated in 2000, that backpack-related injuries sent more than 7,000 people to the emergency room! A Backpack Attack!

While this may seem surprising to most of us, the reality it does make sense why there would be an increase in backpack related pain. When you consider the amount of weight children carry in their backpack – many times just slung over one shoulder, it should not be surprising. One study in Italy determined that the average child carries a back pack that is the equivalent of a 39 pound load for a man weighing 176 lbs., or a 20 lb. load for a women of 132 lbs. It also stated that 60% of the children carry a heavy backpack experienced back pain!

Further, a study in France has determined that the longer a child wears a backpack, the longer it can take for spinal curvature or deformity to be corrected! That is, if it can return to normal!

What You Can Do To Help Prevent A Backpack Attack

The American Chiropractic Association offers the following tips to help prevent the needless pain that backpack misuse could cause the students in your household.

  1. 1. Make sure your child’s backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of their body weight.

A heavier backpack will cause them to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Chiropractic Care Can Help…
If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call our office today at 314.731.4383. Dr. Martin Schmaltz is licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use a gentler type of treatment for children. In addition, he can also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop strong muscles, along with instruction in good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits.