Learn About the Link Between Children’s Chronic Back Pain & Back Packs



Back packs may not be getting as much use right now in the summer flow, but most of us are still using totes as we take off on trips, or head off to summer swimming, camps and parks. So it might be a good time to take a closer look at the dangers of overweight back packs for kids.

Key Back Pain Safety Tips

The American Chiropractic Association says young children are encountering back pain earlier because of overweight backpacks. They recommend the backpack weight be no more than 10 percent of the child’s body weight, and that the weight be carried over both shoulders. If weight is carried over just one shoulder it interferes with the natural movement of the upper and lower body. The child will hike one shoulder to subconsciously guard against the weight, holding the other shoulder immobile.

SpineHealth suggests these backpack checkpoints. Use lightweight materials, such as canvas instead of leather, have two inch padded, adjustable straps, individualized compartments, and a hip strap, waist belt or frame to distribute weight from shoulders to pelvis. Include wheels so the pack can also be pulled and consider using a separate bag for a child’s laptop and other electronics.

Additional tips: Pack the heaviest objects in the backpack first so they are carried lower and closer to the body. Fill compartments so the load is evenly distributed and does not shift. Fit the backpack snugly to the child’s body, two inches above the waist. Do not carry the backpack low near the buttocks. Check to make sure the child is not learning forward when walking. If there is leaning there is too much weight in the backpack.

Before you and your child head off to each event, take the time to repack the backpack and eliminate unnecessary weight. Then make sure the straps fit the body and continue monitoring it.

Visiting the Chiropractor

In your next visit to the chiropractor you may want to discuss carrying totes and get more safety suggestions. The chiropractor sees a huge flow of injuries and improper lifting and carrying overloaded totes often brings people in for treatment.

The chiropractor’s goal is to maintain normal activity levels and seek to reduce pain without using medications or surgery. As the summer goes on the chiropractor can be a valuable resource on activities for the whole family, treating injuries early before they become chronic. Make it a point to check in and set up a regular calendar of appointments.


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