The Risk to Your Child’s Health You May Be Overlooking As a parent, it is natural that when it comes to your children their health and well-being is your number one priority. There is however one growing threat to kids’ health that many Moms and Dads overlook; the growing size of kids’ backpacks.
A Weighty Issue
There is no doubt that all too often schoolchildren of all ages are shouldering a burden that is far more than they should when it comes to their backpacks. In fact, in a study undertaken by researchers at Simmons College in Boston concluded that 55% of US 5th to 8th grade students carry backpacks that weigh 15% or more of their body weight, which is far from a good thing. What’s even worse is that a 1/3 of the students individually studied complained of regular back pain.
And believe it or not it gets worse. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2014 almost 14,000 children aged between 5 and 18 years old were actually hospitalized for what they termed backpack related injuries, injuries that included sprains and strains to the back and shoulders, contusions and, believe it or not, actual fractured and broken bones.
How Backpacks Injure Kids
So how can something as seemingly benign as a backpack cause so much pain? There are actually a number of ways; too much weight in the pack in relation to the child’s body weight, the distribution of that weight in the pack, badly designed shoulder straps and improper carrying techniques.
Any of these things can easily cause a child pain. In the case of the overloaded book bag when the child walks with it on their back their head tips forward, leading to neck and back pain and, in some cases, over time, curvatures of the spine. Carrying the pack on one shoulder is one way kids often try to make their load easier to carry but that causes problems too. In one recent study it was found that carrying a loaded book bag on one shoulder can increase the spine curvature in scoliosis patient, many of whom of females between the ages of 10 and 15.
Practicing Backpack Safety
The obvious question any parent is going to have at this point is; what can I do about all of this? Kids have to get their books and supplies to and from school and as carrying them in their arms is an impossibility a backpack is the best answer, especially as even though they do exist, most schools ban the use of potentially back saving rolling book bags for safety reasons.
However, if we simply take it as a given that your child can’t ditch their backpack there are other measures that you and your child can take that will help minimize the health risks:
Opt for Quality – No matter how loud they whine for that inexpensive plastic cartoon covered book bag because it’s ‘cool’ make sure that you buy your child a high quality backpack instead. Ideally it should have padded shoulder straps and, especially for younger children a padded back or waist. Yes, it’s more expensive to buy a back pack like this but they do last – we know one kid who was given a Lands’ End backpack in 8th grade and is still using it in college. Now there’s a great return on investment right there!
See if the Load Can be Lightened – Often the school is partially to blame for today’s heavier backpacks because they do require that kids carry a lot of stuff. One text book alone can weigh between 3 and 5lbs, often more for high school level books, so if your child has to carry four of those a day then they may already have a 20lb load to carry and that’s before adding anything else!
However, many kids do keep more stuff than they need for the day in their back pack for sheer convenience, they don’t want to repack their bag every day or make too many locker trips during the school day. This is where you should step in as a parent and work with your child to determine just what they do REALLY need to carry on a daily basis and ensure that unnecessary items are left at home.
Get Help – If the damage has been done and your kid is already complaining about aches and pains in their neck and back nip the problem in the bud and book them in for a chiropractic evaluation. During that consultation the chiropractor can check for existing problems while also making solid recommendations to avoid more problems in the future.
We are taking new patients and offering free consultations, and that way we find out if you are someone we can help before going any further. Call us today for a free consultation at (913)-953-5959 or CLICK HERE for more information about our Overland Park chiropractic office.