Backpacks and Back Pain

Pain in the lower back is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  Around 31 million Americans are suffering from pain in the lower back.  Many people have grown accustomed to the pain and no longer realize that most lower back pain is not “just a part of life,” it is something with a cause, and something with a solution.

While back pain isn’t surprising, what may be surprising are some of those that are suffering.  Kids.  Because children are still growing it is especially important to help them develop healthy habits at a young age.  Proper posture is important.  You may have told your children to sit up straight at some point, but you are probably overlooking something that is part of the daily routine of school children.  A backpack.

When you are selecting a backpack make sure that you are choosing a supportive design, eliminating excess stress on any one part of the body.  A backpack is something that many children carry almost every day, take your time when selecting one.  The backpack should be appropriately sized for your child, do not select an adult size simply because you can fit more in the backpack, consider the small frame that will be carrying the weight of the backpack!

Compartments can help you to balance the weight of the backpack.  When the backpack is filled try to make sure that it weights less than fifteen percent of the body weight of the child.  Be thoughtful about what is being included in the backpack, is it necessary?

If your child is bending forward to counterbalance the weight but the weight should be appropriate for their size, try repacking the backpack.  Placing the heaviest items closest to the body will make it easier to carry.  Choose nice wide straps, two inches are a good width.  Choosing a strap that wraps around the waist is helpful as well.

Keeping the backpack strapped closely and securely to the body can help to prevent misalignment of the spine.  Teach your children to carry the backpack with both straps.  Carrying a heavy weight with only one strap is not healthy.  It is important for children to pick their backpack up by bending at the knees so they are not putting undue pressure on their backs.

Children face the same risks as adults from heavy backpacks.  If your child starts to complain of pain in their shoulders or back, headaches or neck pain, or numbness in the arms you should set up an appoint with our office.

A backpack is something that is involved in the daily lives of most children and if it fits poorly or is overfilled there can be long term consequences.  If your child is showing the above symptoms, or if you want to take a proactive approach to overall health call our office.  We look forward to serving you!