Strain on the Spine: Backpacks and Back Problems in Kids

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Backpack Safety Tips from a Chiropractor

As parents gear up to tackle the school supply checklist, there is one important item that deserves careful consideration: the backpack. While pens, pencils, notebooks, sneakers, and new clothing are important, the choice of a backpack should not be overlooked. Backpacks serve as a convenient way of transporting items from point A to B. Dr. Deryk Harting, a chiropractor at one of the highest rated auto injury care medical groups in Tampa Bay, warns that when overloaded or improperly worn, backpacks can exert a significant strain on the spine, potentially leading to long-term back problems. Studies indicate that over 60 percent of students experience backpack related pain. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, backpack related injuries send an estimated 5,000 children a year to emergency rooms. The spine, joints, and back muscles are not designed to endure prolonged periods of heavy load bearing, which can contribute to degeneration, stiff muscles, and pain. With the spine health of young ones at risk, and as a chiropractor, here are some safety tips for parents to reduce the impact of backpacks on spinal health.

Signs of an Overloaded Backpack

Monitoring your child’s backpack usage is key to preventing potential issues throughout the school year. Be on the lookout for these signs that their backpack may be too heavy:

  • Struggling to put on or take off the backpack.
  • Experiencing pain while wearing it.
  • Numbness in the arms or legs.
  • Visible strap marks on the shoulders.
  • Bending forward due to the weight.

Essential Backpack Safety Tips

  • Strap Considerations: Look for a backpack with wide and padded straps. These distribute the weight evenly across the back, preventing shoulder discomfort and pain. Fashion trends should take a backseat to spinal health.
  • Proper Sizing: Avoid the temptation to buy a larger backpack that your child can “grow into.” An oversized backpack encourages overloading and can strain the back. The ideal fit is one that does not extend more than four inches below the waistline or two inches below the shoulders.
  • Weight Management: The weight of the backpack should never exceed 10 percent of your child’s body weight. As the school year progresses, resist the urge to overload the backpack with extra items. An ergonomic backpack with proper weight distribution is key.
  • Strategic Packing: Teach your child to load heavier items closer to their back, minimizing strain. Compartments within the backpack can help distribute weight effectively.
  • Double Straps: Encourage your child to wear both shoulder straps. This balances the load and prevents muscle cramping, neck strain, and low back pain associated with carrying the backpack on one shoulder.
  • Padding Matters: Look for backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps. Non-padded straps can dig into the shoulders, leading to shoulder and spine pain.
  • Adjustability: Ensure that the backpack’s shoulder straps are adjustable to achieve a snug fit against your child’s back. Loose straps can lead to improper positioning and spinal strain.
  • Lifting Techniques: Teach your child proper lifting techniques. Bend at the hips and knees when putting on the backpack, keeping it close to the body. Avoid slinging it on one shoulder.

The alarming trend of back pain among young children can be attributed, in part, to the heavy backpacks they carry daily. Studies have shown that the weight carried by children far exceeds recommended limits. In response, some states have considered legislation to regulate backpack weight in schools. However, it is equally important for parents, teachers, and students to take proactive measures. Ensuring proper backpack usage and spinal health education can go a long way in preventing unnecessary pain and discomfort.

If your child experiences any pain or discomfort due to backpack usage, do not hesitate to seek the help of a chiropractor. These healthcare professionals are well-equipped to diagnose and treat spinal issues in patients of all ages. Through gentle treatments, exercises, and advice on nutrition and posture, chiropractors can help your child develop a strong, healthy spine. This back-to-school season prioritize the spinal health of our young ones. Parents can lead the way to a successful and pain free academic career by raising their awareness and following these backpack tips. Investing in your child’s spinal health today ensures a healthier tomorrow.

— This article is written by Deryk Harting, DC, one of the members of Chambers Medical Group’s team of car accident chiropractors who offer a variety of treatments and therapies ranging from diagnostic testing to various soft tissue therapies for car accidents and injuries in Florida.




















































Have you been in a car accident? If you or somebody you know has been in a car accident, be sure that you seek medical attention from a car accident doctor or car accident chiropractor to treat your injuries. Visit Chambers Medical Group  to receive world-class medical treatment for your injuries.

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