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Chiropractic Advice For Backpack Safety

Our chiropractic clinic was at a local retail business  in Vaughan Sunday offering backpack safety tips for students and parents.   The one common thing I notice with most of the children and teens that we see at our clinic is they carry a backpack that is way too heavy for their growing spines.  I remember when I was going through school, the first time I used a backpack was in grade 9.  Today, even the grade school children are sent home with backpacks filled bulky binders and heavy textbooks.

Not only is weight a concern, but how the backpacks are worn concerns me.  Especially, with the high school students. Their backpacks are overloaded, usually carried by one strap over one shoulder, and if both straps are used, they are so loose that the backpack is practically hanging down by their lower back or waist area.  This puts extra weight on the spine that can lead to pain or serious back or health problems.

According to a study published in the journal Spine, increasing the weight of backpacks can:  1. Significantly compress the discs of the low back, 2. Increase spinal curvature, and 3. Significantly increase low back pain in children.*1

In the month of September, when kids get back to school, our clinic is holding a Backpack Safety Awareness Week (September 7-16) for our practice members.  The focus is to teach children, teens and parents the proper ways to choose, carry and load backpacks so they reduce unnecessary loads and stress on the back and prevent strain, pain or serious health problems.

Next time you visit your family chiropractor, ask him or her about backpack safety for your children.

Back To Health Chiropractic Centre is a children-friendly wellness clinic. Located in Vaughan, in the hamlet of Maple, we serve families with children and infants of all ages.

Here are some tips that our chiropractic clinic will be sharing during Backpack Safety Awareness Week  …

  1. Choose a backpack that has two wide, padded adjustable straps and a waist strap.
  2. Padding on the back side can help provide a cushion between the spine and the backpack contents.
  3. Make sure the backpack fits properly.
  4. When packing the contents, place the bulkier heavier items (textbooks, binders) close to the body and keep the lighter items away from the back.
  5. Use the pockets and compartments to pack smaller items and help distribute the weight.
  6. For children in grade school, grade K-8, the weight should be no more then 10% of their body weight.
  7. For high school students, grade 9-12, the weight should be no more then 15% of their body weight.
  8. Always use both straps.
  9. Use the waist strap to help transfer some of the weight to your hips and reduce back strain.
  10. Don’t carry the backpack too low.  Tighten up the shoulder straps so the backpack is being carried on the upper area of your back.

Following these backpack safety tips can go a long way to preventing pain, strain and spinal misalignments in children when carrying a backpack.

 *1. Spine:  January 2010 – Volume 35 – Issue 1 – pp 83-88