Backpacks are useful in dozens of ways. When you’re hiking in the woods but need a snack or refreshing drink to cool off, perhaps a pair of binoculars to observe wildlife, a backpack is the best tool. When traveling and you need a small travel bag that is convenient to carry – that’s right, backpack. And of course, who doesn’t picture school aged children with packs larger than them strapped to their backs?
Kids often carry heavy loads to and from school. A typical backpack can often weigh more than 30% of the total weight of the child carrying it! This can lead to poor posture, compressed discs and even curvature of the spine. When straps dig into the muscles of the shoulder, damage to the nerves in the hands and arms can occur. When children already spend so much time sitting in school, the added weight of a backpack can cause additional spinal stress.
Children who complain of back or neck pain, numbness, and headaches may be able to trace those symptoms to postural changes brought on by heavy backpacks. Here are a few things to keep in mind as the school year draws near and you’re out shopping for backpacks.
The backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of his or her bodyweight. Heavy backpacks lead to leaning forward to support the weight by their backs rather than their shoulders.Backpacks should not hang lower than 4 inches below the waistline. This is another cause of children leaning forward when walking.Both shoulder straps should be worn. Disproportioned weight by carrying with only one strap shifts the weight to one side leading to neck spasms and lower back pain.
Children aren’t the only ones affected by heavy backpacks. If you begin to have pain, or your child complains of pain, it’s important to avoid causing further injury by scheduling a visit with your chiropractor. A quick check now may prevent a longer term injury later!
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