|Health & Fitness
by Dr. Larry Smith, Lake Mountain Chiropractic
Two new studies showing that heavy backpacks can lead to both back pain and poor posture in school children underscore the need for parents to educate their children on the proper use of backpacks, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
The first study, published in the May 2003 issue of the journal Spine, found the use of backpacks during the school day - and the weights of the backpacks - are associated with back pain. A second study concluded children actually hunch their bodies forward and lower their heads to accommodate the burden of wearing heavy backpacks.
"In my own practice, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of young children who are complaining about back, neck and shoulder pain,” said Dr. Scott Bautch, immediate past president of the ACA’s Council on Occupational Health. “The first question I ask these patients is, ‘Do you carry a backpack to school?’ Almost always, the answer is ‘yes.’”
The ACA offers the following tips to help prevent pain:
- Backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s bodyweight.
- Should never hang more than four inches below the waistline; otherwise it will cause 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 the more your child will carry.
- Wear both shoulder straps to distribute the weight of the backpack evenly.
- Buy padded straps, non-padded straps can dig into your child’s shoulders.
- Shoulder straps should be adjustable for fitting to your child’s body.