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Children and Backpacks

Posted Jan 07 2010 3:11pm

Backpacks are a leading cause of back pain among young children and teens.  There has been an increase in the number of young people who suffer from headaches, neck pain, and back pain from backpacks that are simply too heavy.


To avoid this, the backpack should never weigh more than 10 percent of our bodyweight.  If it is heavier, the straps bother our shoulders so we tend to bend forward so that the backpack rests on our back.  This causes an unhealthy slouching posture.  It helps if the straps are wide and padded so that they do not uncomfortably cut into the shoulders.  We also lean forward if the backpack hangs too low, so it is important that the straps are able to be adjusted so that the pack is not to far below the belt line. 


It is also best to use both straps to keep the weight evenly distributed.  Don’t try to look cool by slinging one strap over a shoulder because it causes us to shift our weight to one side which can lead to muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and jammed joints.


Bigger backpacks lead to more weight, so small to medium sized backpacks are preferred.   Unnecessary items should be left at home, at school, or in a locker to avoid making the backpack too heavy.  With today’s technology, I am not sure why students need to carry textbooks at all.  They should be able to access this information over the internet or in handouts.


A good backpack will also have compartments or dividers to keep the contents from shifting around and making the weight of the backpack uneven. 


The part of the backpack that rests on our back should be kept free from bulky objects or things that have points or sharp corners so that it is more comfortable.


Avoid backpacks on wheels.  These lead to trip and fall accidents and can be unsanitary.


Unfit children may be more prone to backpack troubles because of the inability to effectively carry even a modest amount of additional weight.  Children should be encouraged to be fit and healthy, by developing good habits in exercise, nutrition, and posture.

 Copyright 2010 Marc Tinsley, DC.  All Rights Reserved

Dr. Marc Tinsleyis a chiropractic physician, personal trainer, speaker and author.  He is a leading authority in health, fitness and rehabilitation who uses systems of healing and support that work with the body instead of against it.  Dr. Tinsley is distinguished for his unique holistic approach in supporting the body's natural healing systems and combining the art and science of chiropractic, exercise, nutrition and emotional health. He practices in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.  

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