This is the special March 2015 edition of my “Myopractic Answers” Newsletter, in which I tackle your health questions! This month, a concerned parent wanted to know the dangers for kids carrying heavy backpacks and what she can do to prevent it.
Q: “I’ve heard that there are some health concerns regarding kids wearing backpacks. With the school year starting, should I be concerned?”
A: There are some studies that have shown that wearing heavy backpacks can be harmful to kids and I’ve seen kids from elementary to high school age who were experiencing back and neck pain due to wearing heavy backpacks for school.
Pediatrician Pierre D’Hemecourt of Boston’s Children’s Hospital says that some kids are carrying backpacks that weigh as much as 30% of their body weight! This is twice what the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Physical Therapy Association recommend as a maximum.
There are several dangers for kids carrying so much weight in their backpacks. Straps that are too thin and carrying the backpack on one shoulder can cause not only neck and back pain but also nerve damage in the shoulder area. Kids also experience back and neck pain from leaning too far forward in order to walk under the weight of their backpacks. Another issue is that kids can develop spondylolysis, which is a stress fracture in the back caused by bearing too much weight.
How to Protect Your Kids.
These problems can be treated and corrected if caught early, but preventing such issues is always the ideal solution. There are several things you and your child can do to make carrying backpacks safer and more comfortable.
Make sure your child has a backpack that has decent padding in the shoulder straps and that he always wears both straps. Heavier items should be placed so that they are against the back, as putting too much weight towards the front of the backpack will cause shoulder pain and may cause your child to lean back too much to support the weight. Encourage your child to carry some of his textbooks and other heavy items if the backpack is already fairly heavy. It’s also a good idea to weigh your child’s backpack every so often to be sure that it does not exceed 15% of your child’s body weight.
If your child complains of back, neck or shoulder pain, it might be a good idea to call and schedule a myopractic evaluation to determine if myopractic treatment is needed. School is hard; it doesn’t need to be painful as well!
Do You Need A Treatment?
If it has been some time since you’ve received a myopractic treatment, or if your symptoms have returned recently and you’ve experienced pain or discomfort for more than 48 hours, we recommend coming back in to see us. We can usually get you in immediately by calling (480)721-9433. Thanks for reading and until next month…