Spinal pain in children due to increased weight and increased time carrying a backpack is on the rise. A study out of Italy reports the average child carries a backpack weighing more than 20 percent of their weight, and 60 percent began to experience back pain as a result. This has been shown to cause an increase in wear and tear on the vertebrae and discs of the spine, as well as indirect trauma by reducing the natural curvature of the spine as the child leans forward to accommodate for the heavy weight of the backpack.
The American Chiropractic Association published guidelines to help prevent increased stress on children’s spines as they head back to school. Ensure a child’s backpack weighs no more than five to 10 percent of body weight. The backpack should be worn high on the back and not hang more than four inches below the waistline. Pack pointy or bulky objects away from the area that will rest on the child’s back. Urge the child to wear both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight. Use a backpack with wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps. If the backpack is over the desired weight, ask the teacher if the child can leave their heaviest books at school and bring home only lighter handout materials and workbooks.
Dr. Flynn J. Vick is a certified chiropractic sports physician who treats children and adults at Elite Chiropractic, 8475 Government Way, in Hayden, ID. For appointments, call 208-772-5047. For more information, visit EliteChiro.org.