Can you believe it? School is right around the corner. Each year millions of children walk to, from, and around school carrying backpacks filled with books and other materials.
Parents, are you aware that your child’s heavy backpack could be damaging their nerves, muscles, and skeleton?
The direct pressure of a heavy backpack alone, can lead to nerve irritation and impingement. It may also cause muscular and ligament injury, and shifts in skeletal structure.
Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the back and shoulders. The risk over time is overload, which can lead to structural shifts of the spine that can ultimately cause secondary problems. Common secondary conditions that may develop are: postural distortions, muscle spasm, headaches, low back pain, neck and arm pain, and shoulder pain.
You can use the following recommendations to reduce the chance of your child suffering from these secondary problems:
- Look for a bag with two padded (2-inch wide) adjustable shoulder straps that also has a padded back
- There should be a hip strap or waist belt to redistribute the weight of the bag from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
- Wheels are a handy accessory, allowing a backpack to be pulled instead of carried
- Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
- Pack the heaviest objects in the bag first, so they are carried lower and closest to the body
- Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snug to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack two inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the bag low near the buttocks
- Limit the weight of the backpack to between 10-15% of your child’s body weight
- Coach your child to carry only the items needed in their bag, leaving unnecessary items at home or making a few trips to their locker during the day
While following the above recommendations may lead to a decreased risk of secondary issues, the use of a backpack, even properly, could still cause structural abnormalities in your child’s spine. It remains critically important to have your child’s spine examined for structural shifts. Only a doctor who focuses on Neuro-Structural Correction can assess and correct these shifts, allowing the body to function optimally.