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Avoiding Those Backpack Blues

By Stephen R. Farris

Remember back when we were in school? We might have brought home a couple of books and paper home to study and do our homework. We were always bogged down with a ton of school supplies to carry to and from school each and every day, or lub between classes.

Kids these days almost need to be bodybuilders with the amount of books and school supplies they have to carry around on a daily basis. That puts a lot of stress on their bodies, especially the joints, muscles and back. You might think that back pain is only an adult condition, but preteens and teens can also develop back-related problems as well.

A good backpack is essential for school age children in this day and age. Did you know that in a recent European study that children on average carry a 39-pound load that would be the equivalent to what a 176-pound adult male would carry? Stop and think about it. That's a lot of weight for youngsters to have to endure on a daily basis. So here are a few tips you might consider before purchasing one for your child.

Where to Start

Make sure your child's backpack doesn't weigh more than 5 to 10 percent of their weight. This can cause them to bend forward and put undue stress on the back. Check to make sure the length of the backpack does not exceed more than four inches below their waist. Any more than that could also cause forward leaning.

What to Look For When Buying a Backpack

Roominess is not always best. That just means your child will have more room to put more stuff in it, thus making the backpack heavier and bulkier. Choose a backpack with wide straps -- at least two inches -- and adjustable to fit your child. The wide straps will provide the shoulder area with comfort rather than digging in. If allowable at your child's school, consider opting for a backpack with a built-in handle and rollers on the bottom. If they have a ton of books and supplies to take to and from school, this "suitcase on wheels" could be really beneficial, but some schools don't allow wheels. It would also be helpful for them lugging their stuff between classrooms.

If your child has an enormous load of school work each day (books and supplies), try setting up an appointment with their teachers to see if there's a better way to lighten their load. And remember, talk with your local chiropractor to see what advice and suggestions they may have to help keep your child's back, joints and muscles healthy.

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

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