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Backpacks: Is it Time to Lighten the Load?

School is back in seschild with back to school suppliession and with school comes increased stress on the developing spine. Apart from sitting, one of the most common sources of spinal stress for kids is backpacks. Call it an occupational hazard but as a Chiropractor mom in the school playground I can’t help but notice the increasing number of kids who carry heavy loads on their shoulders and backs and I cringe thinking about the future problems that these loads can and likely will create if left unchecked. Fortunately, with awareness and a few modifications, your child’s backpack can carry the load without carrying the burden in years to come.

Backpacks Can Affect Your Children’s Health

The incidence of back pain in kids is on the rise and the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor. Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and can even distort the spinal column affecting its alignment and mobility. This can alter nervous system function causing changes in how the brain perceives and adapts to its environment. The effects can include muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain to name a few.

Preventing Overweight Packs

Teenaged girl wearing a backpackKnowing that carrying a heavy load has the potential to create problems in your child’s spine what is the solution? Simply stated it might be time to lighten the load. The combined weight of your child’s backpack and its contents should be no more than 10-15% of their total body weight. Since the weight of the bag is part of this equation skip heavy material like leather and stick with canvas or vinyl. For example, if your child is 60 lbs their fully loaded backpack should weigh no more then 6 – 9 lbs. If it weighs in heavy, it may be time to consider if they really need to pack everything but the kitchen sink. While you can figure this out on your own, we make it easy with our complimentary “Backpack Fit Session”. In this quick session, we will weigh your child and make sure not only the weight but the fit are appropriate for your child’s developing spine.  Click here to schedule this complimentary session.

Achieving the Right Fit

When it comes to ensuring that your child’s backpack is not adversely affecting their health packing it light is extremely important. In next week’s blog, we will cover how to “wear it right” so that your child’s spine can continue to develop optimally.

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