Each school year millions of kids walk around with backpacks filled with books and materials that could possibly be causing them back pain. The backpack itself is designed to prevent this by distributing the weight across the stronger back and shoulder muscles. However, kids regularly tote backpacks that weigh 22 percent of their body weight or more! Overloading the backpack will risk straining the back, neck or shoulders.
When the backpack is overloaded, the back will compensate for any weight applied to it for an extended period of time. This can distort the natural curves in the middle and lower back, cause irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage, or lead to rounding of the shoulders. Increasing the weight in the backpack also causes a person to want to lean forward, increasing the likelihood that he or she will fall.
A common practice among kids is to carry their backpack over one shoulder. Doing so often leads to back pain because it causes the shoulder to compensate for the uneven weight, adding stress to the muscles. The spine then leans to the opposite side, stressing the back and ribs, which can cause muscle strains, spasms and back pain.
Preventing Back Pain
The American Physical Therapy Association recommends that children carry only 15-20% of their body weight. Reducing the weight in the backpack is the easiest solution to back pain problems, while taking other precautions such as using extra padded backpacks, utilizing compartments to distribute the weight of materials, or using a backpack with wheels can help to prevent pain.
To further prevent back pain caused by backpacks, shop for one that is the correct size for your child. Choose one that is comfortable, fits close to the body and has thick, padded shoulder straps for added support. It is also important to educate your child on how to properly load and wear the backpack. Teach your child to use both shoulder straps, place the heaviest objects in first, clean out the backpack regularly and make frequent trips to a locker throughout the day.
If your child is suffering from any form of back, neck or shoulder pain, call us today 732-431-2155 to schedule an appointment with a member of the Advanced Wellness team.