Have you recently attempted to lift your child’s school backpack? If you have been surprised at the added weight, you are not alone. Those of you who have been done with school for a while probably do not remember the weight that a number of books, writing devices, art supplies, and other odds and ends can put into the average scholastic backpack, and many a parent has wondered if their child has secretly taken up bowling during school hours. Not surprisingly, many a school aged child is now complaining of back pain, neck pain, and also tension headaches. Waiting rooms in chiropractors’ offices are filled with parents who are bringing in children to be treated.
Chiropractors note that there are a number of problems that children experience in today’s education system, and one of them is peer pressure. As early as second grade, children begin to carry their backpacks looped over one shoulder instead of on their backs where the weight is evenly distributed. Yet since everyone is doing it, nobody wants to look like a kindergartener or first grader anymore, and so the little seven and eight year olds are going down a road that leads to shoulder and back pain. Some chiropractors have pointed out that heavy backpacks are contributory to spine deformities in bodies which are still growing, and it is not known whether or not the deformities will self correct or if future surgeries may be indicated to make good what the thirst for knowledge has harmed.
As a parent, you have a number of options available to you. Following chiropractic advice for your child’s backpack and back health, make sure that you do the following:
- Take an active interest in your child’s backpack. Know what she or he is carrying around and eliminate non-essential books, tools, and especially toys.
- Do not let your child carry the bag on only one shoulder and do not purchase a bag that is to be slung over one shoulder only. Instead, insist that your child wears a backpack properly.
- Adjust your child’s backpack prior to the beginning of the school year. Periodically throughout the year readjust it as needed. The goal is for your child to have a backpack that – when fully loaded – does not hang below the waist for more than about five to six inches. While a low hanging backpack is considered cool in some venues, it also forces the shoulders to absorb too much weight and will contribute greatly to shoulder pains, neck pains, and even headaches!
- When purchasing your child’s backpack, steer the little one toward picking out one that offers a number of different compartments and is not too big. While some schools specify the size of the backpack a child should carry, you as the parent know best what your child can handle. Furthermore, ensure that the shoulder straps are wide and padded.
If you follow these tips from your friendly chiropractor, your child will have a much easier time in school and will not complain of aches and pains. Nonetheless, taking her or him to the chiropractor every so often is a good idea to nip painful spine deformities in the bud.