Newswise — Arlington, Va.- It’s that time of year again: parents are beginning to buy their children school supplies for the upcoming school year. But what parents may not know is that one particular item on their list is sending thousands of children to their doctors' offices every year—backpacks.
According to Scott Bautch, DC, president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, many students experience back, neck and shoulder pain from oversized backpacks. "With the combination of carrying backpacks much too heavy for a child's physical abilities and an increasing sedentary lifestyle, children are reporting back pain at similar rates as adults" says Dr. Bautch.
To help the students in your household avoid back, neck and shoulder pain, consider the following tips from the American Chiropractic Association:
Tip #1: Make sure your child's backpack weighs no more than 5 to 10 percent of his or her body weight.
A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders with the straps.
Tip #2: The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline.
A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
Tip #3: Urge your child to wear both shoulder straps.
While trendy, lugging the backpack around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
Tip #4: Choose a backpack with wide, padded straps.
Non-padded straps are uncomfortable and can dig into your child's shoulders.
Tip #5: Choose adjustable shoulder straps.
The backpack should be fitted to your child's body. Straps that are too loose can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably and cause spinal misalignment and pain.
For more information or to speak with Scott Bautch, DC, a chiropractor who specializes in occupational health and ergonomics and who can offer additional guidance on this topic, please contact Annette Bernat at [email protected] or (703) 812-0226. To find an ACA chiropractor near you, visit www.acatoday.org.