The Backpack Dilemma

The Backpack Dilemma

You can't tell your children not to bring their textbooks to and from school but what if the consequence of a consistently overloaded backpack is neck, back and shoulder pain? Chiropractors, pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons all agree that backpacks are a problem for a child's spine.

While health care professionals do not agree on the exact weight, the consensus is that a child burdened with more than 10 percent of their body weight risks back and neck pain. The majority of health care professionals agree that a child carrying 15 percent or more of their body weight can suffer from severe back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and other spinal discomfort; not to mention aggravate pre-existing spinal conditions such as scoliosis.

The first priority in purchasing a backpack is to select function over fashion. Here are a few criteria to consider when choosing a better
functional backpack:

1. The backpack should fit properly (not too long or too short).

2. It should have wide, padded, adjustable straps (for proper positioning on the back).

3. A backpack with a hip strap or lumbar pillow provides additional protection. The hip strap, when used, can distribute a portion of the weight
to the hips, easing the load on the spine and shoulders. The use of a lumbar pillow will provide the necessary back support to the lumbar region, where the greatest portion of weight is being carried.

A backpack stuffed with that "extra" book, binder, electronic device or water bottle can easily add an unnecessary 10 pounds. Parents need to show their children the importance of loading and carrying their backpacks appropriately. The heaviest items should rest against the back, which means loading them first and attempting to distribute the weight evenly.

So, with the new school year just few weeks away, remember that when it comes to choosing a backpack, think function before fashion. Your child's health depends on it.

More about Backpacks, and Children at:

Sarah Laub
Director of Community Outreach
West Hartford Chiropractic
345 North Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06117
Office: (860) 232-5556
Fax: 860-232-9555

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