Is Your Child's Backpack too Heavy?

The beginning of the new school year is just around the corner.  School supplies line store shelves and children lament the end of summer.  While parents concern themselves with supply lists and school uniforms, they may not yet have considered just how many books their children will be carrying on a daily basis.  Bulging backpacks stuffed with books, folders, and binders are a common site in the fall, winter, and spring months.  Children hunch over under the strain of up to twenty pounds of excess weight.

Unfortunately, these increasingly heavy bags are often viewed as a necessity despite the many physical problems they can cause.  Overly heavy backpacks can lead to back injuries and a lifetime of chronic pain.  Back sprains/strains, neck strain, and inflammation of cartilage often result.  Of course, given the amount of weight and how often it is lifted, it’s no wonder that children face long-term back pain.  It’s been estimated by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission that children who carry a 12-pound bag which must be hoisted 10 times daily over the course of a school year will end up lifting a cumulative amount of 21,600 pounds.  To put that in perspective, it is approximately the same weight as the combined total of six mid-sized cars!

For many parents, what action they can take to relieve this incredible amount of strain on their children’s backs is unclear.  Most realize that the bags are particularly heavy, but they aren’t sure what, if anything, can be done.  Fortunately, there are many steps that can be taken to lighten the load, redistribute the weight, and prevent injury to the back and neck.

  1. Ensure that the backpack is no heavier than 5%-10% of the child’s total body weight.  Encourage children to take the time to sort through their things at the end of each day and in between classes, leaving any unnecessary items at home or in their lockers.
  2. Encourage children to use both shoulder straps, and purchase a backpack that has wide, padded straps.
  3. Adjust the straps of the backpack so that the bag sits no lower than 4 inches below the waistline.
  4. Purchase a rolling bag that also offers shoulder strap options.

Rather than waiting for a child to begin complaining of back pain or suffering from poor posture, take proactive steps to avoid future discomforts.  In addition to the steps listed above, regular visits to a chiropractor can help prevent injury, as well as address any existing back and neck pain.  In order to perform at its highest capacity, the spine must remain in proper alignment.  As bad posture and heavy backpacks begin to take their toll and cause subluxations along the neck and spine, it becomes increasingly difficult for the body to do its job properly. 

Chiropractors are trained to recognize the signs of distress and injury to the muscles, nerves, and soft tissue of the back and neck and to treat them appropriately and effectively.  Gentle spinal manipulation will lead to proper alignment of the spine, improvement in areas of discomfort, better posture, and a lower likelihood of future injury.  Despite advances in technology, children’s backpacks remain as heavy as ever, and it is critically important to take steps that allow them to avoid future pain.

If you are the parent of a school-aged child and live in or around the Gastonia or Belmont, NC areas, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.  Both of our locations are home to highly skilled chiropractic physicians who regularly treat children of all ages.  Click here to request an appointment through our online form.

To learn more about other childhood ailments that may be improved through chiropractic care, click the image below to receive a free copy of our guide, “8 Ways Chiropractic Care Can Improve Your Child’s Health.”