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Backpacks and Back Pain

Updated: Oct 5, 2017

So off they go, back to school with their shiny new shoes and backpacks ready to start another great school year! But wait a minute, did you check that backpack to make sure that it is the right size and fit for your child? Because it does make a difference. 

So many children, especially the younger ones, are heading out the door with backpacks that are ill fitting and could potentially be setting them up for chronic back and muscle pain in the future. 

As a doctor of chiropractic, we are seeing more and more young patients suffering from back and neck pain in our practices due to children carrying cumbersome and too heavy backpacks. 

Have you picked up your child's back pack lately? Most of our kids are carrying around on average more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight and in most instances slung over one shoulder. So what to do, here are some general tips to follow so that your child does not end up with chronic neck and back pain:     

  • Make sure that the backpack that your child is wearing is the correct size for him or her, it does make a difference especially for our kindergartners whose muscles and spines are still developing and forming.    

  • Your child's backpack should not hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the tension on the neck, shoulders and low back increasing the arch in the low back.    

  • A backpack should always be packed with the largest and heaviest books or binder flush to your child's back, and then start to pack the backpack from the heaviest to the lightest with the least heaviest item the furthest away from your child's back.    

  • Remind your child to always wear his or her backpack with both shoulder straps, never slung over one shoulder as this increases neck muscle and shoulder tension.

  • Buy a back pack with thick wide straps with plenty of cushion so they do not dig into the shoulders.    

  • Make sure that the backpack has adjustable shoulder straps so that the back pack fits snug to your child's back and can be adjusted as they grow from year to year.

  • If you still feel that your childs backpack is still too heavy talk to their teachers and ask if it's OK if the child can leave their heaviest text books at home so they do not have to carry them back and forth to class. Or maybe they can use them on a limited basis and the teacher can tell them what days they will be using their text books so it will minimize the amount of time that they have to carry them. 

  • In addition, encourage your older children, if time permits, to place their heavy books in their lockers and make more frequent stops to their lockers instead of carrying their back packs around all day long.

  • If your child does start to complain about neck or back pain, check out their back pack you might find that it is the culprit right away.

Originally posted on the Northborough Patch

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