Students are being challenged more than ever to attain higher educational goals.  However, another challenge is plaguing these young scholars:  back pain.  There has been a sharp rise in the number of children reporting back pain.  Children are active, and injuries are expected from normal day-to-day activities, including sports, playground accidents, and the like.  However, children are not expected to experience back pain from carrying materials necessary for school.  If your child is complaining about back pain, consider consulting a chiropractor while closely monitoring the weight and positioning of your child’s backpack.

Problems Associated with Improper Backpack Use

When children go to school, it is akin to reporting to a “job”.  Parents and teachers assume they are safe.  No one could reasonably anticipate children would experience back pain from the transport of the “tools” necessary to complete that job.  However, more and more children are experiencing back pain from carrying backpacks that are too heavy or do not fit properly.  According to the American Chiropractic Association, young children are experiencing back pain much earlier than previous generations.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that backpack-related injuries resulted in more than 7,000 people receiving emergency room care in one year’s time.

Selecting the Correct Backpack for Your Child

When students are shopping for a new backpack, their main concern is the “cool” factor, or making sure that it is the most current fashion statement.  Most children do not take safety features into consideration.  Therefore, parents need to look for the following qualities when selecting a backpack for their children:

  • Ergonomic design
  • The correct size – never wider or longer than the child’s torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist.
  • Padded back and shoulder straps
  • Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight
  • Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
  • Compression straps to stabilize the contents   

How to Wear a Backpack Properly

Once the correct backpack is purchased for a child, it is important to make sure they are wearing it correctly.  First of all, the backpack should not exceed 10%-15% of the child’s weight.  If a backpack exceeds this recommended weight, talk to school personnel to determine what materials must be transported daily.  

The backpack should rest evenly in the middle of the back and should not be more than four inches below the waistline.  Both shoulder straps should be worn to evenly distribute the weight.  Although some children may think that slinging their backpack over one shoulder looks cool, they are putting themselves at risk of unnecessary injury.  The straps should be adjusted so that the backpack fits snugly.

Backpack Dos and Don’ts

  • Do wear two padded straps, evenly distributing the weight.
  • Do not wear backpacks with a single strap.
  • Do place the heaviest items close to the body and the lighter items away from the back.
  • Do not get a backpack that has too much extra room since a child will be more likely to fill that space with non-essential items.

Can Chiropractic Care Help Backpack Related Pain?

If your child is complaining of back pain, or you are concerned about posture changes, call Dover Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center today to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.  Even if your child is not currently experiencing back pain, being proactive can insure your child’s spine is in proper alignment to prevent future pain.  

References

ACA (2018) Backpack safety tips. American Chiropractic Association. Retrieved from:  https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Backpack-Safety

NSC (2018). Backpack safety:  It’s time to lighten the load. National Safety Council. Retrieved from:  http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/backpack-safety-for-kids.aspx