Chiropractors are continuing to see an increased number of children with back and spine issues as a result of wearing their backpacks incorrectly. Backpacks allow students to conveniently carry school books and other essentials when traveling to and from school. In addition, backpacks are able to effectively distribute heavy loads evenly across the back and shoulder muscles.
Unfortunately, overloading a backpack or wearing it incorrectly can cause strain the back, neck, and shoulders and ultimately cause lower back pain. Overweight backpacks can affect a child’s legs and cause spine issues including pelvic unleveling and even scoliosis.
Some students may overfill their backpack with equipment, tennis shoes and other accessories. This extra weight only worsens the problem. In addition, backpacks for teens are often larger in size and allow heavier weight loads which contribute to back problems.
Children and teens will sometimes carry a backpack on one shoulder. This creates additional problems to compensate for the uneven weight distribution. With the imbalance, the spine leans to the opposite side, stressing the middle back, ribs, and lower back more on one side.
Researchers continue to debate heavy backpacks and the associated issue of back pain. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the weight of a child’s backpack should not exceed 10-20 percent of the child’s body weight.
Additional strategies below can aid in minimizing the strain and pain cause by carrying a backpack:
- Ensure the backpack is not too heavy and has equal weight distribution
- Use the waist strap for additional support, when needed
- Encourage the use of both shoulder straps and proper positioning
- Fit of the backpack is crucial. Adjust the shoulder straps so the backpack fits high on the back and shoulder straps are comfortable. The pack should sit above the hips and not extend beyond the waist
- Encourage the re-adjustment of straps depending on your clothing so they fit as designed
- Avoid letting the backpack sway from side to side. This can result in chaffing as you walk
- Encourage wearing a backpack only when necessary. The child can put it in a locker or set it on the floor to reduce the impact and strain
- If your child or teen experiences continuous lower back pain, purchase backpacks specifically designed for back pain
- Your chiropractor can also recommend good backpacks to alleviate back pain
Lower back pain is a common driving factor for making an appointment with a chiropractor. This is a resource which is often under-utilized and can help relieve lower back pain by addressing the cause.
If your child or teen experiences any amount of back pain, but especially lower lumbar pain, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor. Medication is often a temporary solution to block or lessen the pain. Chiropractors focus on identifying the cause of pain and effectively treating it.
Children and teenagers should not have to suffer from lower back pain. Correcting the underlying causes can help minimize or eliminate pain as they become adults. A physician or chiropractor can help correct persistent lower back pain. These strategies can help ensure your kids have a healthy, happy school year.