When you move your children’s backpacks after they drop them at the door, does it feel like each contains a bag of cement? Have you noticed your child struggling to put on the backpack or bending forward while carrying it, or complaining of tingling or numbness? Not a good beginning to the school year. Count on your chiropractor for good advice about backpack safety.
If you wondered about the cumulative effect wearing backpacks has on childrens’ bodies, your instincts are correct. Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly may cause problems. Between 1999 and 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that more than 5,400 ER visits were related to injuries caused by backpacks.
Wearing a heavy backpack can cause strains felt in the shoulders, back, and neck. As a child tries to compensate for the extra weight by leaning forward, the child’s spine can get out of alignment. It can also cause muscle fatigue and weakness. Your chiropractor knows this can result in poor posture and a misaligned spine.
The longer a child carries the extra weight he or she may have pain, muscle stiffness, and problems with flexibility and range of motion. Backpack wearing can significantly increase the child’s potential for injury. Chiropractors often see symptoms such as backache, sore or stiff neck, sore shoulders, and headaches.
It’s common to see children carrying backpacks equaling as much as 25% of their body weight. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends a backpack weigh no more than 5% to 10% of a child’s weight.
A large, roomy backpack may always seem like a good idea. However, the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it. If something’s not essential, have them leave it at home, in their locker, or the classroom.
If your child regularly carries home a heavy backpack, you may need to talk to their teachers. Remind them that your chiropractor is concerned about the short- and long-term effects on children’s musculoskeletal development and function.
Remember, too, that your child may not think about telling you the backpack is too heavy. Observe their backpack habits, and intervene for them if necessary.
Show your child how to put the largest and heaviest items in first, usually in the largest pocket of the backpack.
For even weight distribution, be sure to make use of the multiple compartments for smaller items.
3 Keys to Backpack Safety
7 Tips for Selecting the Right Backpack
Ensuring your child has the right-sized backpack and wears it properly can prevent back pain or posture problems. Follow these seven tips to allow your child to have a safe, healthy, pain-free school year!
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.