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excited kids with hands up wearing backpacksAs the summer comes to an end it’s time to start preparing the kids to go back to school. For most parents this involves shopping for school clothes, supplies, and a new backpack.

Backpacks are one of the most commonly used accessories for kids of all ages. They prove to be incredibly handy for hauling materials from school to home and back again. However, if used incorrectly they can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has previously reported that backpack-related injuries sent more than 7,000 people to the emergency room in one year’s time.

When shopping for your child’s backpack the American Chiropractic Association offers the following tips to help prevent backpack related injuries.

  • 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.
  • 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 the 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 about lightening the load.
  • Although the use of roller packs – or backpacks on wheels – has become popular in recent years, ACA is now recommending that they be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack.

Dr. Randy and Dr. Justine are both specialists in chiropractic care for children. If your child reports pain or you notice changes in his posture, please give us a call or ask us about your child’s spine when you are in for your regular adjustment.


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