Remember back in the day when there were lockers… Wait, I don’t even remember when there were lockers!
Carrying books to and from school has been the norm for years. I’m sure you can remember lugging around a backpack with 2-3 text books and a 3-ring binder. Not to mention your TI-85, colored pencils, lunch, snacks, and a protractor. Did you ever weigh your backpack?
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “heavy backpacks can become a clinical problem in school-age children if not enough attention is made to decrease some of the weight being carried in the packs.”
Heavy packs can cause kids to hyper-extend, or arch, their back. They will also lean the head forward, and round the shoulders to compensate for the heavy weight of the bag. These postures significantly stress the muscles in the neck and back, increasing the risk of injury and fatigue. The natural curves in the middle and lower back become distorted, which causes irritation to the vital nerves protected by the spine.
So what do to about the pack?
The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association recommends carrying backpacks that are no more than 10% your body weight, AND evenly distributing the weight between both shoulders.
And Ladies… this goes for your purses too!
If you weigh it out, a kid in elementary school that is 40-80 pounds should only be carrying a backpack that weighs 4 to 8 pounds, respectively. Even for a teenager who weighs 100-200 pounds, that’s still only 10-20 pounds for a backpack. That’s a pretty empty backpack!
School starts in less than two weeks. Consider weighing in with your student. Moms, get out your purses. Kids, get out your backpacks.
Figure out how heavy the backpack currently is, then prioritize which items need to stay and what can go. Periodic backpack check-ups throughout the year can keep their backpack from exceeding the healthy weight recommendations. Encourage them to wear both shoulder straps…It IS cool. I promise!
School is a multi-year process. Take healthy measures now to protect the integrity of the spine during these critical growth years. And if you have questions, call us at Chico Spine & Wellness. 530.456.1457