As a parent, your child’s health and safety is top priority—but there may be risk you’re overlooking: your kiddo’s backpack. A shocking amount of injuries can be attributed to improper backpack design, usage and wear, and these injuries to your child’s growing and developing spine can cause long-term damage and health issues. Take a look at some of the stats and facts:
- More than 79 million children and adolescents carry backpacks—stuffed with books, notebooks, laptops, binders, pencils, pens, lunch bags, gym clothes and more
- Simmons College reported that 55 percent of students surveyed between 5th and 8th grade were carrying packs weighing more than 15 percent their body weight—and a third of those students had experienced back pain
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that in 2011 nearly 14,000 children, between the ages of 5 and 18, were hospitalized for backpack-related injuries—that’s a 100 percent increase in hospital visits in less than 10 years
- Reported injuries include contusions, sprains and strains to the back and shoulders, and even fractures
What’s the problem?
These injuries are the result of a multitude of different factors—weight of the pack, size of the backpack in relation to the child’s body, distribution of weight in the backpack, poorly designed straps, improper wear (like slinging it over one shoulder) and more.
When you’re carrying an overloaded, heavy bag on your back, it can cause your upper body to lean forward and your head to jut forward. This can cause strain to the back, neck and shoulders—and over time can seriously affect the healthy curvature of the spine. Carrying a bag on one shoulder can also create an imbalance throughout the body. And studies have shown that wearing a backpack on one shoulder may increase the curvature of the spine in scoliosis patients—a population which largely consists of girls between the ages of 10 to 15.
How can I tell if my child’s backpack is a problem?
Some of the key signs to watch for:
- Complaints of pain or discomfort
- Change in posture while wearing backpack (i.e., leaning forward, tilting to one side, forward head carriage)
- Difficulty putting on backpack or taking it off
- Red marks on shoulders
What can I do?
Make sure you’re purchasing a quality backpack with wide, padded straps, a padded back or waist, even distribution of weight—and keep the weight below 10 to 15 percent of your child’s body weight. If you’re not sure if you have the proper pack for your little one, consult with your chiropractor for more information, and make an appointment for a spinal evaluation.
For the first two weeks of August, Chiro One Wellness Centers is offering $10 spinal evaluations for K-12 kids. The evaluations include a consultation, exam, digital orthotic foot scan, two spinal X-rays (if medically necessary) and a backpack safety check. Many of our offices are also offering a free workshop on backpack safety on Tuesday, August 5th and Tuesday, August 12th. Call 866-623-1632 to schedule an appointment at one of our 41 Chicagoland locations. Also, don’t forget to ask about our workshops or visit www.chiroone.net/backpack to learn more.