How to Prevent Injury from Backpacks | | RxEconsult

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How to Prevent Injury from Backpacks Category: Pain Management by - September 5, 2012 | Views: 25148 | Likes: 1 | Comment: 3  


Backpacks and injury


It is that time of year again where kids are getting their class schedule and parents are rushing around getting their supplies. We have heard that books help children develop mentally, but can books also be harmful to a youngster's body? When you send your child off to school, no doubt you see an energetic child eager to learn. However, your doctor of chiropractor, a health specialist who puts particular emphasis on spinal integrity, sees something else. Over the course of the day, a child's backpack can way up to 20-30 pounds. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child's backpack should not weigh anymore than ten percent of a child's weight. Not only does it throw off a child's equilibrium and balance, a heavy backpack is a strong contributor to lower back pain. All this weight on one-area forces children into a habit of bad posture and poor weight distribution.

Here are the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Recommendations:

  • Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders, by the straps.
  • The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • A backpack with individualized compartments helps in positioning the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child's back.
  • Bigger is not necessarily better. The more room there is in a backpack, the more your child will carry and the heavier the backpack will be.
  • Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
  • Wide, padded straps are very important. Non-padded straps are uncomfortable, and can dig into your child's shoulders.
  • The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, talk to your child's teacher. Ask if your child could leave the heaviest books at school, and bring home only lighter hand-out materials or workbooks.
  • Roller Backpacks - or backpacks on wheels - should be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack. Some school districts are banning rollerpacks because they clutter hallways, resulting in dangerous trips and falls.


Most importantly, remember pain is a symptom and not a cause. Pain of any type can be an indication of a possible health problem. It signals that the body is not functioning properly and since the body is made up of nerves which travel through the spine to all parts of the body, the source of the problem may not be at the point of the the pain.


About the Author

Denville Medical & Sports Rehabilitation Center offers a beautiful state of the art facility and specializes in:
Internal Primary Care Medicine, Chiropractic Care, Physical Therapy, Sports Medicine, Pain Management, Naturopathic Care, Weight Management, Nutritional Counseling, and Massage Therapy.


This article is for information only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of RxEconsult, LLC.

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