There’s a hot new trend in backpacks recently: Pain! This new trend among youngsters isn’t surprising when you consider the disproportionate amounts of weight they carry in their bags – often slung over just one shoulder. A recent study conducted in Italy found that the average child carries a backpack that would be the equivalent of a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound man, or a 29-pound load for a 132-pound woman. Of those children carrying heavy backpacks to school, 60 percent had experienced back pain as a result. These types of studies are especially important as more and more school districts remove lockers from the premises, forcing students to carry their books with them all day long.
Rollerpacks – or backpacks on wheels – might seem to be a good answer to this problem, but some school districts have banned the use of these because they clutter hallways; resulting in dangerous trips and falls. The problem of heavy bags has become so widespread that the California State Assembly passed legislation that would force school districts to develop ways of reducing the weight of students’ backpacks.
When you head out to the store this fall, keep these tips in mind:
- Straps: Wide, padded straps distribute weight and increase comfort. They need to be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted properly. Proper construction for male or female anatomy and shoulder width is important.
- Interior: Individualized compartments help in positioning the contents most effectively and side pockets help distribute weight close to the spine.
- Size: Keep the size down to limit the weight. Bring some books along to test how heavy it gets.
- Back padding: Enough to limit pressure on the back from bag contents and distribute contact across the whole back. Contoured to fit the spine and flexible enough to accommodate it’s curves.
- Straps: Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps. Adjust them so that the backpack hangs less than four inches below the waistline.
- Weight limit: A fully loaded bag should weigh no more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. 5% or less for younger children.
- Back fit: Conform the backpack to fit their spine. Ensure when loading the bag that nothing pointed is against their back. The largest thing should be against the spine.
- Balance: Try to put heavier items like books closer to the body and lighter material out farther. Side pockets for heavy things like water bottles keep them close to the body.
Chiropractic Care Can Help…
If you or your child experiences any pain or discomfort resulting from backpack use, call LGCWC. Children usually require far less treatment and in a much gentler fashion than in adults. We also prescribe exercises designed to help children develop strong muscles, along with instruction on good nutrition, posture and sleeping habits.
Here are some examples of backpacks that have been endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association as meeting all the requirements for excellent anatomical fit, weight distribution and comfort.