While back pain tends to be more prevalent among adult populations, school age children can also be affected, especially if they had a preexisting condition such as scoliosis. As a matter of fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports thousands of injuries each year resulting from the misuse of book bags.
337 Magazine reached out to Dr. Michelle Carr of Carr Chiropractic Clinic (StayAdjusted.com) for a few tips on how parents can help their little ones lighten their load.
- Backpacks should weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight. A bag that is too heavy can place undue amounts of stress on a growing spine. Make sure your child is not leaning forward or backward to accommodate the bag’s weight.
- Make sure the child is only carrying essential items to reduce backpack weight. Over the year, backpacks can get cluttered with non-essential items, so be sure to clean the bag out regularly. Leave any textbooks and binders at home or in a locker when they are not needed.
- The size of the backpack does matter. Your child’s backpack should not be an item a child can “grow into.” It should be no wider than your child’s shoulders and should not extend below the hips.
- Distribute the weight of the bag’s contents as evenly as possible. Balancing the contents of your child’s bag will help reduce discomfort and stress. If the bag has side pockets, keep them evenly filled to help maintain proper posture.
- Keep items centered to help keep your child balanced. Large books, binders and laptops should be placed directly against the back, with smaller items placed furthest from the back. Make sure the contents of the bag rest flat against the back, packing irregularly shaped objects away from the back.
- Always carry a backpack using both straps. The goal is to safely distribute the weight of the pack. Using both straps will ensure that weight is evenly distributed across the back, reducing spinal stress. Carrying a pack on one side will shift the entire weight of its contents to one side and may contribute to spinal health problems.
- Adjust the bag according to the child’s shoulders and hips. A properly adjusted backpack will sit at shoulder height and will rest at or above the child’s hips. An incorrectly set backpack will place undue pressure on the shoulders and spine.
- Choose a bag with wide, padded straps. Wide straps help distribute the weight over the back evenly. Padded straps will help to ensure comfort.
- Choose a bag with chest and lumbar straps to reduce stress. These straps will help reduce stress on the neck, shoulders and spine. Straps also promote proper posture while wearing the backpack, which is essential for keeping a growing spine healthy.
Dr. Michelle Carr is licensed and trained to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and will use gentle treatment for children. Additionally, she can also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop strong muscles, along with instruction in good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits. Call 337-993-CARR to schedule and appointment.