Posted by: Dr. Jessica L. Caruso
Think carrying a backpack is “no big deal”? Think again. The average child’s backpack weighs 12 pounds and gets lifted 10 times a day. That equals 120 pounds lifted each day. That works out to be about 21, 600 pounds lifted in a 180-day school year!!!
How exactly does carrying a backpack affect the spine? Common sense tells us that a heavy load distributed unevenly day after day causes stress to a growing spinal column. More than 50% of youths experience at least one low back pain episode by the end of their teen years. Repetitive activities such as hauling a heavy backpack over one shoulder each and every day can lead to serious postural misalignments and imbalances, creating subluxations of the spinal column. These subluxations may cause nerve interference, which can lead to a variety of symptoms and decrease a child’s immune response.
Carrying a heavy backpack in which weight is improperly distributed can result in poor posture; spinal column distortion; muscle strain; headaches; back, neck and arm pain; and nerve damage.
Proper lifting techniques are extremely important. The following is proper backpack lifting technique and should be demonstrated to your child:
Face the backpack before you lift it
Bend at the knees
Using both hands, check the weight of the pack
Lift with legs, NOT your back
Carefully slip on one shoulder strap at a time
NEVER sling the pack on one shoulder
Packing your child’s backpack properly can decrease strain on the spinal column:
Pack the heaviest objects close to the body
Place bumpy objects on the outside, away from the back
Having your child checked regularly by a chiropractor to remove subluxations and insure proper posture during the growing years is very important. Remember, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”