Back pain is common among adults in the United States, but kids and teens aren’t immune from it. In fact, we are seeing back pain in young people much earlier now than ever before, and one of the greatest contributing factors to this disturbing trend is overweight backpacks.
There’s been a marked increase in the number of children complaining about shoulder, neck and back pain, and the first question we ask them is “Do you carry a backpack at school?” The answer is almost always “yes.”
The increase in back pain in young people isn’t surprising when you think about the amount of weight they carry in backpacks every weekday, especially when the bags are often carried slung over one shoulder. According to a recent Italian study, researchers found that the average child’s backpack would be equal to a 29-pound burden for a 132-pound adult woman or a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound adult man. A whopping 60% of the children studied experienced back pain as a result of carrying heavy backpacks at school.
Other studies show that the longer a young person wears a heavy backpack, the longer it takes for the spine’s curvature or deformities to correct themselves.
In response, some states have passed laws that force school districts to come up with ways to reduce the weight of students’ backpacks, and the American Chiropractic Association recommends limiting the weight of a backpack to less than 10% of a child’s body weight.
What Can You Do?
We recommend choosing lighter backpacks and making sure they don’t hang too low on your child. It shouldn’t fall more than four inches below the waistline because this increases the weight on your child’s shoulders and will force him or her to lean forward when walking.
Look for backpacks with individualized compartments. This helps you spread out the contents to more evenly distribute weight and keep bulky objects closest to your child’s back.
Talk to your child about wearing both shoulder straps. While it may be hip to wear bags slung over just one shoulder, this causes a shift of weight to one side of the body, causing lower back pain and neck and muscle spasms.
Choose a backpack with wide, padded adjustable straps that won’t dig into your child’s shoulders.
If your child is experiencing discomfort from carrying a too-heavy backpack, contact us today. We provide chiropractic services for children in Vancouver WA that will help reduce pain so your young student can thrive.