Is your child’s backpack a pain in the neck?

DR. STEPHEN KONKLE

“Strapping on the backpack” is a daily ritual for students. They struggle to fit in all the necessities of school – books, binders, and supplies – as well as gym gear, lunch, and more. However, what may not be apparent in the effort to get to school every morning is the potential for injury that is associated with wearing a poorly-designed or overloaded backpack. More than 50% of Canadian youth will have experienced back pain by the end of their school years, and overloaded backpacks may be a cause.

Research shows that carrying a backpack weighing more than 10% of the child’s body weight can lead to back and neck pain, changes in posture, as well as potential injury to the spine, joints, and muscles. Yet, despite this risk, more than 90% of students are carrying more than 10% of their weight on their backs!

Both children and parents need to know that this kind of injury can be prevented by keeping some simple tips in mind:

Choose a backpack that is appropriate to the child’s body size, and not larger than needed. The top should not extend higher than the shoulders and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hip bone.

The shoulder straps should be wide, adjustable, and padded, and the backpack should also have a padded back for added protection and comfort. Pack the heaviest items closest to the body to reduce the strain.

Hip or waist strap helps to redistribute as much as 50-70% of the weight from the shoulders and onto the pelvis, balancing the load.

Backpacks should never exceed 10% of an elementary school child’s weight.

Chiropractors play an important role in providing preventative education and the early detection of potential back problems, in addition to providing treatment for musculoskeletal injuries.

Dr. Stephen Konkle, B.Sc. D.C. is an Old Ottawa East resident, and owns and operates Remedy Chiropractic & Sports Injury Centre in downtown Ottawa
(www.remedychiro.ca).

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Filed in: Education, Front Page, Life Column

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