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Are Backpacks Hurting Kids Rather Than Helping Them?

By Stephen R. Farris

The other day I was observing my granddaughter walking out of school to get into the front seat of my car. Her neck and shoulders were tilted slightly forward due to the backpack she was wearing to bring home all of the books she needed to study with for that day.

I felt terrible for her because I knew this must have been uncomfortable for her. What's sadder is the fact she didn't take time to take off the backpack before she got into the car. I get it, though. Having to take that heavy pack off and putting it back on all the time can get tiresome real quick. But at the same time, it can't be good on her back, neck, and shoulders.

In this day and age of electronics, for the health of our children and grandchildren, should they have to bear the load of all those books? It certainly could cause health problems later on, not to mention the toll it takes on their posture.

According to research, a child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of their body weight. That would be ideal, but we know that's not always the case. Most of the time, those backpack limits are far exceeded. 

The health problems associated with kids carrying overweight backpacks can vary, but these are some of the main things that can happen when they are carried for long periods of time, which is the majority of the school year.

  • Increased chance of developing neck and back pain, which can result in poor posture

  • Muscle soreness due to the straps

  • Poor balance, and the risk of falling or other types of injuries

However, there are ways to help your child get some relief for the benefit of their health. You may need to first check in with your child's teacher to see if they can also help ease their load. Here's some examples:

  • Pack only the most essential items your child needs to take for school

  • Have your child utilize their lockers at school to store books and supplies they don't need to take home every day

  • Have your child take advantage of electronic resources related to their school work instead of toting books home all the time

If your child starts to experience pain and/or soreness related to carrying a heavy backpack, visit your local chiropractor to find out where the pain originates from, and to get relief.  

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Sacramento, Calif.

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