Backpacks should be worn wellDear Dr. Miller: Please give us some information on purchasing backpacks for our children. Now that school is about to start, I am concerned about injuries that may be caused by the wrong kind and too heavy backpacks.
Dear Dr. Miller:
Please give us some information on purchasing backpacks for our children. Now that school is about to start, I am concerned about injuries that may be caused by the wrong kind and too heavy backpacks.
Last year, I wrote an article about backpacks and since this subject is an important one, I will write another.
As I’ve stated in the past, a child should never carry a backpack that weights more than 15 percent of a his or her weight. Check the weight of the empty backpack before you buy it. Keep in mind canvas bags tend to be lighter and stronger, and leather tends to be heavier.
It is very important to use both straps, and wide straps are best. Some are sold with only one strap; it is best to avoid this style. Make sure your child’s backpack is properly loaded and carried in order to avoid painful injuries.
In an article by Well-Tara Parker-Pope, emphasis was placed on the fact that backpacks can quickly become too heavy with extra books, musical instruments or equipment of any kind in addition to regular school supplies. This saps strength from children needed for doing schoolwork or practicing instruments or playing sports. Even worse, it can lead to back pain and possibly orthopedic damage.
Dr. Pierre D’Hemecourt, a sports medicine specialist lists inflammation of growth cartilage, back and neck strain, and damage to the nerves in the neck and shoulders as possible risks from too heavy backpacks.
When you are purchasing a backpack there are some other basic things to consider. A pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital in California says sling-style backpack will pull down the shoulder and may cause pain in the child’s neck, back and shoulder.
The backpack with two straps will distribute the weight of the load across the child’s shoulders. Thicker shoulder pads are preferable because they help to keep the straps from digging into the neck, back or shoulder.
Backpacks with wheels would be preferable but often they do not fit into the child’s locker, can be difficult on stairs and in areas where it snows in winter. They are hard to handle and some schools do not allow them, so consult your school before buying one.
I can’t stress enough the child should always use both shoulder straps. Make sure they are not too tight or loose. The child should be able to use his or her arms freely, and it should be easy for the child to take off and put on the backpack. Make sure it is positioned in the middle of your child’s back. Try to distribute the load throughout the compartments making sure that is does not become bottom heavy or top heavy, and encourage your child to carry one or two books in his or her arms.
Encourage your child to take some responsibility; children need to pay attention to how it is packed, positioned and carried. Encourage the child to place the heaviest books and equipment toward the back of the backpack. When children get to school, they should place as many things in a locker to lighten the load.
WebMD states kids’ backpacks get even heavier as the child enters middle school. They are filled often with sports gear, cell phones, laptops, books, extra clothes, instruments, food and more.
Backpacks are necessary to transport essential items; they are not a luxury. Because of this, it is vital backpacks are purchased and used properly.
Each year, I treat children suffering from pain caused by heavy or improperly carried backpacks. I would love to see this is a type of injury eliminated.
Please send your comments and questions to Dr. Carl Miller, Lake Superior Chiropractic, 2121 E. Fifth St., Superior, WI 54880 or Cmill005@yahoo.com