With a new September and a new school year upon us, we find it important to discuss how backpacks can disrupt the spinal and back muscle health of even our youngest patients. Young children are not immune from the effects of overweight backpacks, and many chiropractors have been noticing a stark increase in the number of children visiting their offices due to neck, back and shoulder pain. This school year, it is important to stay aware of consequences of consistent heavy backpack use, as well as understanding the proper preventative measures necessary to keep your children healthy.
The Consequences of Wearing Overweight Backpacks
As children leave for school every day, their backpack is always in tow. It stores their books, binders, homework, lunch, and various other miscellaneous items, and its items are essential to a productive school day. Teachers often reprimand students who do not have their books with them, creating more stress to carry multiple textbooks on their backs. Backpacks distort the natural curves of the middle and lower back, which causes muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints. Besides the obvious hazards this can cause to spinal health, it also causes a person to lean forward to relieve pressure, which may cause them to lose balance and fall. Today, many students attempt to find some relief by wearing the backpack on only one shoulder. However, wearing the backpack on only one shoulder will make muscles strain to compensate for uneven weight. This then causes a large amount of stress on the middle back and ribs on one side more than the other. Students also suffer damaging effects to their posture, leading to the rounding of their shoulders and poor habits that last a lifetime.
Steps for Prevention
Of course, the best thing a child can do is reduce the amount of weight put on the back. This can be in something as simple as opting for a lightweight material, such as canvas instead of leather. Asking if books can possibly be left in a safe location in the classroom when possible is an excellent option. Wide, padded straps help to relieve heavy pressure from the back, and a hip strap around the waist also helps to evenly distribute excess weight. Never let a book-bag hang more than 4 inches below the waistline as it increases weight on the shoulders and creates a rounding of the shoulders. If your child is open to the idea, I backpack with wheels that can be pulled rather than carried is an excellent option. Overall, it is most important to understand that a backpack should be no more than 5 to 10% more than the child’s own body weight.
Can Chiropractic Care Help?
Many parents overlook the idea of chiropractic care for their children as they feel children are too young. The truth is that chiropractors are licensed and trained to care for children as well as adults, and they are ready and able to help address chronic back and neck issues. Chiropractic treatment for children is not aggressive, and is actually quite moderate. Chiropractors work gently to address sensitive, painful areas and create a personalized treatment plan to get the child feeling their best. This may involve various exercise and stretch recommendations to strengthen the muscles of the back, as well as a look into posture and sleeping habits.
Make this school year a great one by setting your child up with the tools he or she needs to succeed. By staying happy and healthy, children are prepared to focus on the curriculum and things that matter most. If your child experiences chronic back pain, contact Ward Chiropractic and Rehabilitation today.