Kids Backpacks – Preventing Injury & Pain

Posted on August 6, 2012. Filed under: Chiropractic, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Happy-school-kids-giving-thumb-42775159~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

The beginning of the new school year brings excitement and enthusiasm.  With that, the inevitable purchases for school supplies including those brand new back packs!  Unfortunately, overloaded, heavy and improperly worn kid’s backpacks have accounted for several thousand visits to the doctor and ER room each year.  Most of these visits can easily be avoided.  Kids should not be in pain when carrying their school books to classes each day.   The following tips serve as a great guideline in prevention for improper use of school back packs.  Use these proactive solutions to help prevent injuries:

  • Make sure the backpack is a good fit for the child.  Bigger bags encourage over filling.  Many back packs are now equipped with wheels, provided the handle extends long enough to allow the child to stand upright while pulling it.
  • Shoulder straps should be adjustable, wide and padded.
  • Never carry the pack on just one side of the shoulder.  It produces an uneven distribution of weight on one side forcing the child to lean, which can result in a pinching of the shoulder muscle causing it to not function properly and creating uncomfortable pain on one side.  Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Make sure the shoulder straps are tight enough so the pack hangs slightly below the shoulders with no more than 4 inches hanging below the waist.
  • Use waist and chest straps – it improves how the bag is positioned on the body and encourages the bag to be worn over both shoulders.
  • Doctors suggest that no one carry more than 15% of their weight in the backpack.  If a child weighs 70 lbs, they should not be carrying more than 10 ½  lbs in their pack.  No one should carry more than 25 lbs in a backpack.
  • Pack the heavier items at the bottom.  The goal here is to transfer the weight to the hips.  A backpack with compartments helps keep the load in place.

Inform kids on the importance of keeping a light backpack and to store their unnecessary items in their locker or desk.  Other options would be to keep a second set of the heavy text books at home if possible.  Don’t be afraid to discuss the issue with the teachers if the backpacks are too heavy with all the books the children are required to take home.

The downside of improper back pack use and too much weight are many.  With heavy backpacks, kids begin to lean forward and thereby throw off their natural state of balance.  Eventually, they may experience an alteration in the curve of the middle and lower back as well as increase muscle strain and irritating the spinal joints resulting in a rounding of the shoulders.  Be sure to ask your child how comfortable they feel with their loaded back packs and take notice to see if their shoulders are equally level and whether they are hunching forward.  If you’ve taken the above precautions but your child complains of pain or doesn’t stand correctly when at ease (with or without a back pack) a doctor should be consulted.

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